SMMT data

Half-year new car sales hit 1m for first time in five years

New car sales have risen

New car sales rose above one million at the half-year stage for the first time in five years, but remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

Registrations rose in June by 1.1% to reach 179,263 units taking the total so far in 2024 to 1,006,763. This is up 6% on the previous year but still down 20.7% on 2019, said the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

June’s market growth was driven primarily by the fleet sector, where uptake rose by 14.2%, while private retail demand fell for the ninth consecutive month, down 15.3%. Retail buyers accounted for fewer than four in 10 new cars registered (37.7%).

This is a result of fleet buyers taking advantage of fiscal incentives and subsidies to invest in lower emission vehicles.

Petrol engine-only vehicles remain the dominant powertrain technology but their share of the market fell to just over half in June at 50.9%.

Electric car sales accounted for the highest proportion of the market so far this year but hybrids are outselling fully electric vehicles.

Top car brands 2024
Source: SMMT
Source: SMMT

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “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-emissions transition.

“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.”

Some of the largest manufacturers are reducing the supply of petrol vehicles in order to boost their proportion of electric car sales to meet government targets and avoid penalties.

The zero-emissions vehicle mandate that came in at the start of the year stipulates that 22% of each manufacturer’s deliveries must be electric in 2024. They face penalties of £15,000 for every non-all-electric vehicle sold that falls short of the target.

Sales by Ford, which for five decades was the dominant player in the UK market, fell 42% for a market share of 8.3%. Vauxhall, traditionally the UK’s second largest, saw its sales drop 37% to a market share of 5.6%.

Electric cars made in China, such as MG, owned by Shanghai Automotive, are taking market share and challenging the Korean manufacturers Hyundai and Kia. Chinese brand BYD saw its sales rise to 2,900 in the year to date.



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