New car sales grow 23.5 per cent but still below pre-pandemic levels

  • New car market grew for the fourth month running, up by 23.5 per cent in November with 142,889 sales, according to the SMMT
  • November’s registrations are still 8.8 per cent below 2019 levels
  • Dealers report orders being cancelled in recent weeks as car buyers grow anxious about the gloomy economic situation 

The UK new car market grew by nearly a quarter (23.5 per cent) in November to 142,889 sales, making it the fourth consecutive month of year-on-year growth, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The SMMT said that manufacturers have been “continuing efforts to fulfil orders amid erratic global components supply” and that sales of electric vehicles (EVs), along with increased fleet registrations, were the main factors behind the growth.

However, November’s registrations were almost nine per cent below 2019 levels and the market will not reach pre-pandemic levels this year amid the UK’s economic turmoil.

James Fairclough, CEO at AA Cars, said that with Britain "sliding into recession" four consecutive months of rising new car sales was particularly "impressive" but "the progress is all relative".

Man In A Car Showroom 

"Total sales so far this year are still 3.4 per cent down on the Covid-impacted numbers recorded at this point in 2021, and well adrift from their pre-pandemic levels," he said. 

“The supply of new vehicles is finally improving, with the SMMT recently confirming that UK car manufacturing output jumped by 7.4 per cent in October. But questions still remain about the durability of customer demand."

Business organisation the CBI is now predicting a year-long decline in consumer spending, revising its forecast for 2023 from one per cent growth in GDP to a contraction of 0.4 per cent. 

Barclays Corporate Banking said that vehicle dealers have concerns for the future with many reporting "growing consternation" among consumers.

Row Of Cars In Car Showroom

Cancelled orders in recent weeks 

Karen Johnson, Barclays' head of retail and wholesale, said: "Reduced incentives, increased electricity costs and concerns about infrastructure are all contributing to a milder appetite for electric vehicles, with some previously confirmed orders even being cancelled in recent weeks.

"There is still clear demand for greener options, but going forward consumers look more likely to hedge their bets and buy hybrids. How long this lasts will be a key question for 2023.”

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes sounded a more optimistic note, suggesting that "recovery for Britain’s new car market is back within our grasp".

However, he added: "Urgent measures are required – not least a fair approach to driving EV adoption that recognises these vehicles remain more expensive, and measures to compel investment in a charging network that is built ahead of need. By doing so we can encourage consumer appetite across the country and accelerate the UK’s journey to net zero.”

Car For Sale

Impact of used car market on new car sales

Chris Evans, head of sales at online used car marketplace heycar, added: "As the year draws to a close, our main concern is that the used car price bubble is beginning to pop....[which] could spell trouble for the already weakened new car market as we go into 2023.

"We are already seeing signs of this trend in heycar’s Used Car Price Index where prices for used three-year-old cars dropped 5.33 per cent for diesels and 1.15 per cent for petrol."

How many new cars were sold in November 2022?

There were 142,889 new cars sales in the UK in November 2022, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This means the UK new car market grew by nearly a quarter (23.5 per cent) in November - the fourth month in a row that sales have grown. However, November’s registrations were still 8.8 per cent below 2019 levels.

How many electric cars were sold in November 2022?

Electric vehicle (EV) sales were up 34.2 per cent in November 2022, representing more than one in five new cars – the largest monthly share of EVs this year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 

Hybrid electric vehicles also rose (by 66.9 per cent) to take an 11.3 per cent share of the market. However, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle sales (PHEVs) fell by 5.8 per cent (giving them a 7.1 per cent market share).

Ask HJ

Are electric cars liable for the £40,000 premium road tax rate?

Will electric cars with a retail price in excess of £40,000 and registered before April 2025 have to pay the higher rate of road fund tax?
New electric cars with a list price exceeding £40,000 registered on or after 1 April 2025 will be liable for the premium car supplement. This supplement will be in addition to the standard rate of VED road tax and apply for the first five years the standard rate is paid (from the second year the car is taxed).
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions
Ask HJ

Are PHEVs expensive to run and maintain?

I haven't seen any discussion on maintenance costs for PHEV. Presumably, it must be quite expensive since you are maintaining an EV plus an ICE?
I'm not sure I would agree with this assumption. PHEVs are powered by an electric motor, with the engine acting as a generator when the battery is depleted of charge. Both the battery and electric motor are (mostly) maintenance-free, while the reduced load on the engine reduces long-term wear and tear. It's important to note that engines go through high stress when started from cold (until the fluids heat up) and this heavy wear element is removed, with the battery and motor taking the start-up strain. I think PHEVs (which are charged regularly) will last a lot longer than an ICE car. Add in the reduced brake wear (due to the fact PHEVs have regenerative braking that uses the kinetic energy to regenerate the battery for extra EV miles) and you have a recipe for an efficient and low-cost car. The important bit is to keep the battery charged at regular intervals, otherwise, you'll lose the fuel economy benefits.
Answered by Dan Powell
More Questions