SMMT: May new car market declines as supply constraints hold back deliveries

New car registrations in the UK fell -20.6% to 124,394 units in the second-weakest May since 1992, following the pandemic-hit market in 2020, as shortages in supply of new purchases and fulfillment of existing orders continued to hinder, according to the latest figures from the Society of Automobile Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

New car registrations in the UK fell -20.6% to 124,394 units in the second-weakest May since 1992, following the pandemic-hit market in 2020, as shortages in supply of new purchases and fulfillment of existing orders continued to hinder, according to the latest figures from the Society of Automobile Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The drop, compared to the first full month of reopened showrooms in May last year, demonstrates the impact of ongoing global supply chain disruptions, with the market -32.3% below its pre-pandemic level of 2019, despite strong order books.1

While private consumer purchases fell by -10.3%, their market share rose 6.1 percentage points year-over-year to 53.2%, in part as manufacturers aim to increase deliveries – especially electric vehicles – to private buyers, with a proportional effect on the corporate and large fleet sectors, which now account for 46.8% of the market.

Despite the myriad challenges facing the sector and a high degree of market disruption due to a limited supply of all vehicle types and technologies, manufacturers have worked hard to make progress in decarbonising road transport and achieve the ambitious net -zero UK targets. In May, registrations of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) rose 17.7%, representing one in eight new cars that hit the road last month. Plug-in hybrids were down -25.5%, while hybrids were up 12.0%, meaning electric vehicle deliveries accounted for three in ten new cars.

Superminis remained the most sought-after segment among UK drivers, accounting for 32.7% of registrations in the month, despite their registrations falling -16.4% to 40,667 units, followed by dual purpose, which accounted for 28.9% of the market, even after a -14.1% decline in volumes. The small volume luxury car segment was the only segment to grow 16.8% to 369 units.

The supply chain challenge contributed to an overall year-to-date market decline of -8.7%, which equates to 62,724 fewer units. This is -40.6% below the five-year average from January to May as the new car market continues to struggle to recover from the impact of the pandemic.2

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of SMMT, said:

In another challenging month for the new car market, the industry continues to battle persistent global parts shortages, with the proliferation of battery-powered electric vehicles being one of the few bright spots. To continue this momentum and drive a robust mass-market for these vehicles, we need to ensure that every buyer has the confidence to go electric. This requires accelerating the roll-out of accessible charging infrastructure to cope with the increasing number of plug-in vehicles, as well as incentives to purchase new, cleaner and greener cars.

Delivering net zero means we are renewing the vehicles on our roads at a rapid pace, but with rising inflation and pressure on household incomes this will become increasingly difficult unless businesses and private buyers have the confidence and encouragement to do so. to do.

1. May 2019 car registrations: 183,724 units.
2. Pre-pandemic five-year average, year to May: 1,113,434 units.

SOURCE: SMMT

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