New car sales: Weakest October since 1991

Published:  04 November, 2021

A 24.6% new car sales drop last month has taken October registrations down to a level not seen since 1991, according to the latest figures from the SMMT.

106,265 vehicles were sold during October, which saw the fourth consecutive month of falling sales.Within overall registrations, plug-in vehicle sales continued to lead. Battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales matched September’s 15.2% market share with 16,155 units, while plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) increased to 7.9%, or 8,382.

The latest SMMT forecast has been dropped by 8.8% to 1.66 million units, as a result of on-going supply issues and the economic outlook. This would mean 2021 is likely to end up with 30,000 more sales than 2020, but still 650,000 short of 2019’s pre-pandemic 2.3 million performance.

The organisation is predicting a recovery in 2022, with 1.96 million new car registrations expected next year. Plug-in cars also expected to account for 21.5% of that total.

Commenting on the figures, SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “The current performance reflects the challenging supply constraints, with the industry battling against semiconductor shortages and increasingly strong economic headwinds as inflation rises, taxes increase and consumer confidence has weakened. Electrified vehicles, however, continue to buck the trend, with almost one in six new cars registered this year capable of zero-emission motoring, growth that is fundamental to the UK’s ability to hit its net zero targets.

“With next year looking brighter, and even more new models expected, the continuation of this transition will depend on the preservation of incentives that overcome the affordability barrier, and the ability of the public and private sectors to increase public on street charging to allay EV driver concerns.”

NFDA Director Sue Robinson added: “The sustained growth experienced by the plug-in and battery electric vehicle sectors is encouraging. In line with consumers’ uptake, retailers are also embracing the transition to zero emissions as demonstrated by the enthusiastic response to NFDA’s Government-backed, recently reopened accreditation scheme Electric Vehicle Approved (EVA).

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