UK new car sales: second-weakest May since 1992

UK new car registrations down 20.6 per cent to 124,394 units, as semiconductor shortage continues to cause trouble

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New car registrations in the UK have seen their second-weakest May since 1992, with 20.6 per cent fewer cars being driven away from dealer forecourts. Only May 2020 was worse, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that just 124,394 cars were registered last month. Despite strong demand, the ongoing semiconductor shortage meant that manufacturers couldn’t deliver the number of cars they wanted to. The market is 32.3 per cent below pre-pandemic levels, even though order books are full.

Private consumer registrations fell 10.3 per cent, but their market share increased year-on-year to 53.2 per cent. Fleet and business registrations both saw more substantial decreases.

EV registrations rose 17.7 per cent, but plug-in hybrids declined 25.5 per cent. Superminis were the most sought after segment of car, making up 32.7 per cent of registrations.

In the year-to-date for 2022, registrations are currently down 8.7 per cent on 2021. This is 40.6 per cent below the five-year average for January to May.

SMMT car sales figures May 2022

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “In yet another challenging month for the new car market, the industry continues to battle ongoing global parts shortages, with growing battery electric vehicle uptake one of the few bright spots.

“To continue this momentum and drive a robust mass market for these vehicles, we need to ensure every buyer has the confidence to go electric. This requires an acceleration in the rollout of accessible charging infrastructure to match the increasing number of plug-in vehicles, as well as incentives for the purchase of new, cleaner and greener cars.

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

Thinking of buying an electric, petrol or hybrid car? Read our buying guide to help you along the way...

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