17 Jul 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

New car market sees seventh month of growth in February

New car sales were up 26.2% in February, with 74,441 sold, according to the latest figures from the SMMT, making it the seventh consecutive month of growth.

Sales for the month were down just 6.5% on February 2020, the last month of that year unaffected by the pandemic. Sales to private buyers increased by 5.8%, with sales to large fleets up 46.2%. Business registrations, grew by 0.7%, or by nine cars in other words. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) were up 40.0%, with petrol up by 35.8%, while diesels dropped by 7.0%.2 Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) were up 1.0%. while battery electric vehicles (BEVs) increased by 18.2%. Overall, vehicles with a plug made up 22.8% of all car sold in the month.

Commenting on the figures, SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “After seven months of growth, it is no surprise that the UK automotive sector is facing the future with growing confidence. It is vital, however, that government takes every opportunity to back the market, which plays a significant role in Britain’s economy and net zero ambition. As we move into ‘new plate month’ in March, with more of the latest high-tech cars available, the upcoming Budget must deliver measures that drive this transition, increasing affordability and ease of charging for all.”

NFDA Chief Executive Sue Robinson observed: “New car sales have continued their positive start to the year and we expect steady improvement in both new and used vehicles throughout the year. Steady macro-economic conditions should allow the new vehicle market to deliver a solid year.”

Director of AA Cars Mark Oakley added: “New car dealers have entered March – traditionally one of the busiest months of the year – with a spring in their step.“With the first examples of cars sporting the brand new March registration plates now arriving in forecourts, dealers will be hoping to tempt more would-be buyers in the coming weeks. The big question is how the market will fare once the short-term boost offered by March’s new plates fades. Inflation is coming down, but only very slowly, and the rapidly rising cost of living is slicing into people’s disposable incomes – and thus their willingness to commit to big ticket purchases like a brand new car.The SMMT’s predictions for the year are modest. It’s forecasting that new car sales will rise by 11.1% in 2023 compared to 2022, which would represent solid progress but still fall short of 2019 levels.”