New car sales hit lowest October level since 1991

Plug-in vehicles now account for 16.6 per cent of all cars registered so far this year

New car registrations have fallen for the fourth consecutive month, with a decline of 24.6 per cent to 106,265 units compared to October last year, according to new figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Plug-in vehicle uptake remained positive in the month before COP26, with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) equalling their September market share of 15.2 per cent with 16,155 units, while plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) grew to 7.9 per cent or 8,382 units.

Plug-in vehicles now account for 16.6 per cent of all new car registrations in 2021, which, when joined by a further 9.1% per cent from hybrid electric vehicles means that 25.7 per cent, or more than a quarter of the new car market, has been electrified year-to-date.

Businesses and consumers are expected to take up around 287,000 of the latest zero-emission capable cars by the end of the year.

Despite this strong performance in electrified vehicle registrations, the overall market’s monthly performance was the weakest seen since October 1991.

Demand from large fleets fell by a substantial 40.4 per cent, driving most of the decline.

Private demand fell by a more modest 3.3 per cent, although this apparent small decline is compared against weak consumer uptake during the pandemic-affected October 2020.

Falls were recorded in all vehicle classes except the Mini category, although this is typically a low volume segment and so subject to volatility.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, 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.”

Auto Torque has partnered with Garage Wire to bring you all the latest aftermarket news.

Subscribe for FREE to the Auto Torque e-Bulletin
Auto Torque from BBC Superfactors & The Parts Alliance brings you the latest news and buzz from around the automotive aftermarket, including business advice, technical tips and industry interviews.

Subscribe for FREE today to receive fortnightly industry news delivered directly to your inbox!
It's easy to unsubscribe from these communications at any time.