New cars sales drop two per cent in 2022 amid semiconductor crisis

  • New car market fell by two per cent in 2022 to 1.61 million, according to the SMMT. 
  • Pandemic-related global parts shortages blamed for the drop. 
  • "Erratic supply" expected in 2023, with annual new car sales forecasted at 1.8m. 

Sales of new cars in the UK 2022 fell by two per cent to 1.61 million, according to the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This was despite the new car market recording its fifth consecutive month of growth in December, with an 18.3 per cent increase to reach 128,462 new registrations.

The SMMT said that the second half-year performance was not enough to offset the decline recorded during the first half of 2022, caused by the pandemic-related global parts shortages, notably a lack of semiconductors. 

It said that supply chains are beginning to stabilise and although the shortage of semiconductors is expected to ease,"erratic supply" will likely impact manufacturing throughout 2023. The SMMT's latest forecast is for new car sales to be up on this year, to around 1.8m new cars in 2023. This would still be around a quarter down on pre-Covid levels.

 Showroom -volkswagen -3

Key to next year's growth will be sales of electric vehicles (EVs). December saw EVs achieve their largest ever monthly market share, of 32.9 per cent, while for 2022 as a whole they comprised 16.6 per cent of registrations, surpassing diesel for the first time to become the second most popular powertrain after petrol. 

While private buyers accounted for more than half of all registrations, fleets and business buyers were responsible for the lion's share of electric vehicle sales, accounting for two thirds (66.7 per cent) and the SMMT said that more action is needed to "enthuse more private buyers to go electric". 

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The automotive market remains adrift of its pre-pandemic performance but could well buck wider economic trends by delivering significant growth in 2023. To secure that growth which is increasingly zero emission growth government must help all drivers go electric and compel others to invest more rapidly in nationwide charging infrastructure.

"Manufacturers’ innovation and commitment have helped EVs become the second most popular car type. However, for a nation aiming for electric mobility leadership, that must be matched with policies and investment that remove consumer uncertainty over switching, not least over where drivers can charge their vehicles.”


David Leggett, automotive analyst at GlobalData, highlighted the cost pressures facing UK households and businesses. 

He said: "While there are signs of an easing of parts shortages that have constrained sales over the past two years, fragile supply chains and cost pressures will continue to be extremely challenging this year.

“I’m afraid a year of weak recovery is in prospect alongside ongoing uncertainties that deter investment in the sector.”

How many new cars were sold in 2022?

There were 1.61 million new cars sales in the UK in 2022, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

That figure is two per cent down on 2021 and around 700,000 sales below pre-Covid-19 levels.

How many new cars were sold in December 2022?

There were 128,462 new car sales in the UK in December 2022, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This was the UK new car market's fifth consecutive month of growth, with an 18.3 per cent increase.

How many electric cars were sold in 2022?

Electric vehicle (EV) sales accounted for 16.6 per cent of all new car sales in the UK in 2022, meaning they surpassed diesel for the first time to become the second most popular powertrain after petrol. 

December saw EVs claim their largest ever monthly market share, of 32.9 per cent. 

More than 40,000 EVs were sold in December with the total for the year reaching 267,203.

Ask HJ

Average cost to recharge a 70kWh electric car?

What is the average cost to recharge an electric vehicle with, let's say, a 70kWh battery, or even, say, a Volkswagen Golf?
If you're charging a car at home, it depends on your home electricity tariff. Assuming you're paying, say, 33p per kWh of electricity, you'll pay around £23 to fully charge an EV with a 70kWh battery. A public rapid charger will be more expensive - expect to pay around twice this figure for a charge (although it's unlikely you'll fully charge a car this way).
Answered by Andrew Brady
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Electric range on my PHEV is reducing, what can I do?

I purchased a Citroen C5 Aircross PHEV in September 2021. At that time I was getting over 30 miles on electric power. This, as expected, declined during the winter and spring but when the weather warmed up the max I got was between 24 and 27. When it went for its first service there was an upgrade due. There were problems in that the upgrade failed and in the end they had to link their computer to Citroen for the upgrade to work. Overall the garage had my car for a week! The garage said they thought the upgrade should improve the electric range. This hasn't been the case and now I am only getting 18 miles. Can you advise on what I should do?
We have had a number of reports of this plug-in hybrid system (shared with the Peugeot 3008 and Vauxhall Grandland X) delivering disappointing range on a charge. Owners estimate a real-world figure of about 25 miles is possible, so yours seems low. Failing a trip back to the dealer, we'd experiment with using the car without the heater on (just using heated seats if applicable) to see how much the range improves. Keeping an eye on your driving style could also help: avoid abrupt acceleration and braking, letting the car coast or regenerative brake as much as possible. I'm afraid we're not aware of a real solution to the issue otherwise.
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