New car supply issues blamed for slow UK market recovery as strong fleet demand continues
05 July 2021
Author: Sean Keywood
Worldwide problems with new car production hampered UK registrations in June, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
It said that while the 186,128 registrations seen last month was a 28% year-on-year increase, it was down by 16.4% on the ten-year June average.
The SMMT said that although buyer confidence was steady, the semiconductor crisis - a global shortage of crucial components for modern vehicles - had caused supply issues.
June again saw the fleet sector as the market's strongest, accounting for 49.9% of registrations, compared with 47.7% going to private buyers, and 2.4% recorded as business registrations (fleets with fewer than 25 vehicles).
Over the first six months of the year, this is a trend that has been seen even more strongly, with fleet registrations up by 47.8% compared with the first half of 2020, while there was a 30.6% rise in private registrations and 35.7% growth in business registrations.
Fleets accounted for 52.9% of all new cars registered during the first six months of this year, compared with 45.1% going to private buyers, and 2% as business registrations.
In terms of fuel mix, the strongest growth in June was seen from mild hybrid petrols, up by 286.7% year-on-year for a 13.5% overall share, and mild hybrid diesels, up by 192.6% for a 6.1% share.
This reflects the continuing trend for manufacturers to add mild hybrids to their ranges in place of pure petrol or diesel engines, and this was also seen from petrol registrations being down 1.7% year-on-year for a 46.4% market share - down from 60.5% in June 2020 - and diesel registrations being down 34.7% for an 8.1% market share, compared with 15.8% 12 months previously.
Plug-in hybrid registrations were up 145.7% year-on-year in June for a 6.5% market share, while pure electric cars were up 122.9% for a 10.7% share, and conventional hybrids were up 57.9% for an 8.7% share.
For the year to date, plug-in hybrids were up 196.9% for a 6.4% market share, pure EVs were up 138.7% for an 8.1% share, and conventional hybrids were up by 84.9% for an 8% share.
Reacting to the latest figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "With the final phases of the UK's vaccine rollout well underway and confidence increasing, the automotive sector is now battling against a 'long Covid' of vehicle supply challenges.
"The semiconductor shortages arising from Covid-constrained output globally are affecting vehicle production, disrupting supply on certain models and restricting the automotive recovery.
"However, rebuilding for the next decade is now well underway with investment in local battery production beginning and a raft of new electrified models in showrooms.
"With the end of domestic restrictions later this month looking more likely, business and consumer optimism should improve further, fuelling increased spending, especially as the industry looks towards September and advanced orders for the next plate change."
Over the first six months of 2021, the Vauxhall Corsa was the UK's best-selling car, with 24,399 registrations.
Previous long-term market leader the Ford Fiesta came in second, with 21,511 registrations, ahead of the Volkswagen Golf (19,608), the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (19,498), and the Ford Puma (18,232).
Completing the top ten were the Nissan Qashqai (16,482), Kia Sportage (16,310), the Volkswagen Polo (15,554), the BMW 3 Series (15,402), and the Toyota Yaris (15,124).