Nine-month cycle delivers new optimism

The UK new car market recorded its ninth successive month of growth in April, with an 11.6% increase to reach 132,990 registrations, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Large fleet registrations grew by a third (33.1%) to 68,537 units while deliveries to private buyers fell by -5.5% to 61,342 units.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) remained the second most popular fuel type, with deliveries up by more than half to 20,522 and 15.4% of the market. Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) also posted strong growth, up 33.3% with 8,595 registered in the month, while hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) recorded a 7.7% increase to 15,026 units.

As a result, electrified vehicles accounted for more than one in three registrations in April.

As supply chain pressures have begun to ease, the overall market is now up 16.9% in the first four months. This has led to an upward revision of the quarterly market outlook, with 1.83 million new car registrations expected in 2023.

The sector is, however, less optimistic about growth in demand for BEVs, downgrading their expected 2023 market share from 19.7% to 18.4%, with high energy costs and insufficient charging infrastructure anticipated to soften demand.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “The new car market is increasingly bullish, as easing supply chain pressures provide a much-needed boost. However, the broader economic conditions and chargepoint anxiety are beginning to cast a cloud over the market’s eagerness to adopt zero emission mobility at the scale and pace needed. To ensure all drivers can benefit from electric vehicles, we need everyone – government, local authorities, energy companies and charging providers – to accelerate their investment in the transition and bolster consumer confidence in making the switch.”