The new car market grew 24.4% in August with 85,657 new vehicles registered, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
While August is typically a quieter month with many buyers choosing to wait until the September numberplate change, an increase of 16,799 units means the sector is now entering a second year of growth. Despite this improved performance, the market still remains -7.5% below pre-pandemic levels.
The increase was fuelled by a surge in registrations by large fleets, rising 58.4% to 51,951 units, while business registrations grew 39.4% to 1,635 units. Conversely, private demand softened by -8.1%, compared with a supply-constrained 2022 market.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “With the automotive industry beginning a second year of growth, recovery is underway with EVs energising the market.
“But with a new Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate due to come into force in less than 120 days, manufacturers still await the details. Businesses cannot plan on the basis of consultations, they need certainty.
“And now, more than ever, government must match action to ambition, ensuring there are the incentives and infrastructure in place to convince drivers to make the switch.”
Demand for electrified vehicles continued to grow, accounting for almost four in 10 (37.8%) new cars reaching the road. Battery electric vehicle uptake swelled by 72.3% to secure a 20.1% market share, an August record and the highest recorded since last December.
Plug-in hybrid uptake also rose significantly, by 70.0%, to account for 7.7% of new registrations. Hybrid volumes remained relatively stable with a 6.8% increase, comprising 10.0% of the market.
However, with less than four months to go until the expected introduction of a Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate, industry still has no sight of the proposed regulation.
The automotive sector is committed to Net Zero but the diminishing time threatens the ability of the market to move. Demand from both business and private consumers must be boosted still further if ambitions are to be met, but while businesses benefit from fiscal incentives to switch, there is no similar package for the private consumer market.
In Wales last month, 2,856 new cars were registered, a 26.9% rise on the same month last year.
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The UK new light commercial vehicle market grew for the eighth consecutive month in August, rising 5.0% to 16,303 units, according to the SMMT during what is traditionally a smaller volume month ahead of the September plate change.
The market for medium-sized vans, those weighing greater than 2.0 to 2.5 tonnes, drove growth in the month, surging 72.1% to 2,718 units with 4x4s and pickups also proving popular, demand rising 163.9% and 22.3% respectively to a combined 1,693 units.
Registrations of the largest LCVs, those weighing greater than 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes, meanwhile, decreased, falling -5.1% to 11,549 units, although they still represented the majority (70.8%) of all new van deliveries. Registrations of vans weighing up to and including 2.0 tonnes also fell, down -30.4% to 343 units. By Robin Roberts Miles Better News Agency