UK new car sales up 14% in January, says report

LONDON, England: The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has reported that new car registrations in the UK rose for the sixth consecutive month in January.

In January, new car sales rose 14.7 percent annually, due to robust sales of electric vehicles and large fleets, it added, noting that full-year sales are expected to surpass last year’s figures.

Car registrations for the month amounted to 131,994 units, marking the UK car industry’s best start to a year since January 2020, the Society of Motor Manufacturers added, stressing that it expects 2023 sales to increase more than 11 percent to 1.79 million new cars, and registrations will hit 1.96 million units in 2024.

However, due to strained supply chains and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, registrations for both years will be well below pre-pandemic sales of 2.31 million units in 2019.

The UK’s auto market has struggled with shortages of parts over the last two years, in particular semiconductor chips, while buyers battle inflationary pressures that worsened last year.

In January, hybrid electric vehicles accounted for 14.4 percent of new car registrations, while electric vehicles made up only 13.1 percent, compared with an annual share of 16.6 percent in 2022. EV registrations jumped 19.8 percent to 17,294 units.

This year, the Society of Motor Manufacturers expects plug-in vehicles to comprise more than 25 percent of new registrations, 32 percent higher than the previous year, but warned that the adoption of infrastructure needed to charge them is not keeping pace.

It also said that during the month, registrations of large fleets rose nearly 37 percent to 69,540 units, which could be due to easing supply issues.