Supply shortages slow new registrations

July’s new car registrations fell by 29.5% to 123,296 units, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The decline was artificially heightened by comparison with the same month last year, when registrations rose dramatically as showrooms enjoyed a full month’s operation following the first 2020 lockdown.

However, the July performance was still down 22.3% on the average recorded over the past decade, as the ongoing semiconductor shortage and the ‘pingdemic’ impacted on both supply and demand.

The decline was predominantly within large fleets which, at 61,140 units, was some 28.7% lower than the average recorded over the past decade. Private registrations declined by a lesser extent, 10.7%, to 59,841 units.

However, the bumper growth in plug-in vehicles continued, with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) accounting for nine per cent of registrations, while plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) reached eight per cent.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The automotive sector continues to battle against shortages of semiconductors and staff, which is throttling our ability to translate a strengthening economic outlook into a full recovery. The next few weeks will see changes to self-isolation policies which will hopefully help those companies across the industry dealing with staff absences, but the semiconductor shortage is likely to remain an issue until at least the rest of the year.

“As a result, we have downgraded the market outlook slightly for 2021. The bright spot, however, remains the increasing demand for electrified vehicles as consumers respond in ever greater numbers to these new technologies, driven by increased product choice, fiscal and financial incentives and an enjoyable driving experience.”