Registrations tumble despite record BEV month

UK new car registrations fell by 14.3% to 243,479 units in March, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Despite strong order books, ongoing supply chain shortages continued to squeeze supply during what is normally the industry’s busiest month.

This is, therefore, the weakest March since 1998, and given around 20% of total annual registrations are usually recorded in March, the result is massively disappointing for the sector and underscores the long-term impact the pandemic is wreaking on the industry.

While private registrations grew by 8.2% in the month, large fleet registrations declined by 34.4%.

However, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) continued to enjoy tremendous growth, with 39,315 new zero emission cars leaving dealerships – an increase of 78.7% on last year – and taking a 16.1% market share. This is the highest volume of BEV registrations ever recorded in a single month, and means that more were registered in March 2022 than during the entirety of 2019.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “March is typically the biggest month of the year for the new car market, so this performance is deeply disappointing and lays bare the challenges ahead. While demand remains robust, this decline illustrates the severity of the global semiconductor shortage, as manufacturers strive to deliver the latest, lowest emission vehicles to eagerly awaiting customers.

“Placing orders now will be beneficial for those looking to take advantage of incentives and lower running costs for electric vehicles, especially as the Ukraine crisis could affect supply still further. With increasing household and business costs, government must do all it can to support consumers so that the growth of electric vehicles can be sustained and the UK’s ambitious net zero timetable delivered.”