The UK new car market has posted its longest uninterrupted period of expansion for eight years, as registrations grew 16.7% in May to reach 145,204 units according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The performance marks 10 consecutive months of growth, although registrations remain -21.0% below pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
Large fleet registrations continued to drive the growth, up by 36.9% to 76,207 units, reflecting a regularisation of supply following challenging supply issues in 2022. Registrations to private buyers fell slightly by -0.5% to 65,932 cars, while smaller business fleets registered 3,065 units, a year on year rise of 22.5%.
Petrol-powered cars remain Britain’s best sellers, accounting for 57.1% of all registrations. Alternatively powered vehicles, however, continue to make up an ever-larger share of the market, with plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) rising 23.0% to reach a 6.2% market share and hybrids (HEVs) growing 22.2% to comprise 12.3% of all registrations. Reflecting the dramatic transformation of the market over the last three years, May saw battery electric vehicles consolidate their position as the UK’s second most popular power train. A further 24,513 joined the road during the month, up 58.7% on May last year to secure a 16.9% market share.
Of the new cars registered in May, lower mediums, superminis and dual purpose were the most popular, comprising 86.3%of the market. There are now zero emission options available in every single segment of the market, with more than 80 models – around a quarter of all new car models available – from which to choose. Furthermore, these new BEVs have an average battery range of 236 miles, well in excess of UK drivers’ average weekly mileage of around 100 miles.