New car market grows for sixth month in a row

The UK’s new car market has grown for six consecutive months, new figures show.

Some 131,994 new cars were registered last month, up 14.7% on January 2022, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

Electrified vehicles are driving the increase.

Registrations of hybrid electric vehicles were 40.6% higher in January than during the same month in 2022.

The market share for pure electrics was 13.1%, down from an average of 16.6% last year.

A new SMMT forecast anticipates total registrations across the whole of 2023 will reach 1.79 million, up 11.1% on last year.

The industry body warned that the rollout of new electric vehicle charge points is failing to keep pace with demand.

It stated that the ratio of new charge point installations to new plug-in cars fell from 1:42 in the final three months of 2021 to 1:62 between October and December last year.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The automotive industry is already delivering growth that bucks the national trend and is poised, with the right framework, to accelerate the decarbonisation of the UK economy.

“The industry and market are in transition, but are fragile due to a challenging economic outlook, rising living costs and consumer anxiety over new technology.

“We look to a Budget that will reaffirm the commitment to net zero and provide measures that drive green growth for the sector and the nation.”

Ian Plummer, commercial director at online vehicle marketplace Auto Trader, said: “Against a backdrop of economic turbulence, six months in a row of year-on-year growth for the new car market is something to cheer, but sales of electric vehicles have come back down to earth.

“On our marketplace, demand for new electric vehicles is at a three-year low thanks to higher energy bills.

“They now account for fewer than one in 10 of all new car inquiries being sent to retailers – down from almost 30% last summer.”

Jim Holder, editorial director of magazine What Car?, said: “Electric vehicles were the success story last year.

“For uptake to continue growing this year it’s crucial the cost-of-living crisis is contained, as the technology continues to command a premium over petrol and diesel models.”