New car sales pass 1 million at half year

Sales of new cars in the UK have exceeded one million for the first six months of the year, for the first time since before the pandemic.

From January to June 2024 a total of 1,006,763 new cars were registered, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). This is up 6.0% on last year but still down 20.7% on 2019.

Registrations in June rose by 1.1% to reach 179,263 units, with this growth driven by business and fleet buyers. Private retail demand fell for the ninth consecutive month, down 15.3%, and the SMMT noted that retail buyers accounted for fewer than four in 10 new cars registered (37.7%).

Demand for electrified vehicles, including hybrids, continued to grow last month and pure battery electric cars represented 19.0% of all new vehicle registrations, the highest this year.

However, consumer sales of EVs remain sluggish and fewer than one in five new pure electric vehicles go to private buyers.

Overall, the market share of pure battery electric new cars was 16.6% in the first half of 2024, slightly above the 16.1% in the same period last year, with uptake behind the levels mandated by the UK government.

“The private consumer market continues to shrink against a difficult economic backdrop, but with the right policies in place, the next government can re-energise the market and deliver a faster, fairer zero emission transition,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “All parties are agreed on the need to cut carbon and replacing older fossil fuel based technologies with new electrified powertrains is the essential step to achieving that goal.”