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UK new car market up for the first time in five months

New car market: Superminis remained the most popular vehicle classEMBARGOED TO 0001 THURSDAY AUGUST 25 File photo dated 06/07/21 of the Astra assembly line at Vauxhall's plant in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, as UK car production has risen for three consecutive months year-o-year, leading to hopes that component shortages are easing.
New car market: Superminis remained the most popular vehicle class. Photo: PA (PA)

A total of 68,858 new vehicles joined the UK roads in August, bringing an end to five months of decline across the UK new car market.

In the first growth since February, the UK new car market grew by 1.2% last month, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Read more: Supermarkets failing to pass on lower petrol prices, RAC finds

The SMMT highlighted that August volumes were still the weakest for the month, bar 2021, since 2013 as supply chain pressures continued to constrain the market.

Sales of new cars during the year so far are 35.3% down on the same period in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.


August is traditionally one of the quietest months of the year for the industry as many buyers choose to wait for new number plates to be released in September.

Overall growth in the month was driven primarily by battery electric vehicles (BEVs), which recorded a 35.4% increase in volumes and a 14.5% market share. However, the uptake of purely electric new cars is slowing.

Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) registrations fell by 23.1% to comprise 5.6% of monthly registrations.

As a result, plug-in vehicles accounted for one in five (20.2%) of August’s registrations. Hybrid-electric vehicle registrations stayed relatively stable, falling by 0.7%.

Year to date, registrations were down by 10.7% on last year at 983,099 units — more than a third (35.3%) lower than during the first eight months of pre-pandemic 2019.

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Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “August’s new car market growth is welcome, but marginal during a low volume month.

“With September traditionally a bumper time for new car uptake, the next month will be the true barometer of industry recovery as it accelerates the transition to zero emission mobility despite the myriad challenges.”

Superminis remained the most popular vehicle class, growing market share to 34.0% as 7.4% more of them were delivered to customers than in August 2021.

Multi-purpose, luxury saloon and lower medium vehicles also recorded growth of 31.0%, 1.5% and 1.3% respectively, while registrations of all other segments declined.

The top three selling cars were the Volkswagen (VOW3.DE) Polo (1,902), Ford (F) Puma (1,875) and the Hyundai (005380.KS) Tucson (1,739).

Watch: UK car production hits 65-year low as chip shortages pile pressure on COVID-battered sector