UK New Car Sales Rise 1.7% In May, Retail EV Demand Falls: SMMT

Demand in the British car market rose for the twenty-second consecutive month in May and sales logged the best performance for the month since 2021, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, or SMMT, showed Wednesday.

New car registrations grew by 1.7 percent annually to reach 147,628 units in May.

Fleets and businesses continued to fuel market growth, up 14.0 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, the private market remained weak in May, with sales falling by 12.9 percent.

Demand for electric vehicles strengthened as sales of plug-in hybrid models surged 31.5 percent, accounting for a market share of 8.0 percent.

Consumers demanded 9.6 percent more hybrids, or HEVs, during May, which was the third most popular fuel type after petrol and battery electric at 13.2 percent of the market.

Battery electric vehicle registrations grew 6.2 percent in May, and the market share rose from 16.9 percent to 17.6 percent. This was mainly attributed to the fleet sector, where volumes rose 10.7 percent.

Private retail BEV uptake shrunk 2.0 percent, which was just 98 registrations short of May last year.

“This performance, although encouraging, is still below the trajectory mandated on manufacturers by government in its Vehicle Emissions Trading Scheme, which demands 22 percent of new vehicles sold this year by each brand must be zero emission,” the SMMT said.

“As Britain prepares for next month’s general election, the new car market continues to hold steady as large fleets sustain growth, offsetting weakened private retail demand,” SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said.

While consumers enjoy a plethora of new electric models and some very attractive offers, manufacturers cannot sustain this scale of support on their own indefinitely, Hawes said.

“Their success so far should be a signpost for the next government that a faster and fairer transition requires carrots, not just sticks,” Hawes added.

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