Car sales on the rise again

The UK new car market is showing signs of life, and the industry is looking forward to a further boost as showrooms prepare to reopen.

The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that new car registrations were up 11.5% in March compared with the same month last year, with click and collect providing a lifeline for the sector.

Plug-in vehicle demand reached its highest ever level: battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles took a combined market share of 13.9%, up from 7.3% a year ago as the number of models available to customers increased from 72 to 116.

A total of 283,964 new cars were registered in March 2021, up from 254,684 in March 2020 when Covid-19 brought the country to a standstill and registrations fell by 44.4%.

Compared with the March average of 450,189 in the past decade, registrations were down 36.9%.

“The past year has been the toughest in modern history and the automotive sector has, like many others, been hit hard,” commented Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. “However, with showrooms opening in less than a week, there is optimism that consumer confidence – and hence the market – will return. We know we will see record breaking growth next month given April 2020 was a washout, but a strong, sustainable market is possible if customers respond to the choice and competitive offers the industry provides within the safest of showroom environments.”

Hawes added: “New plug-in models are already helping drive a recovery but to convince more retail consumers to make the switch, they must be assured these new technologies will be convenient for their driving needs and that means, above all, that the charging infrastructure is there where they need it, and when they need it.”