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SMMT raises new car sales projections, but says EVs affected by grant changes

Date: 05 May 2021   |   Author: Sean Keywood

The SMMT has revised up its annual new car registration predictions, after reporting strong growth during the month of April.

With dealerships reopening on 12 April as Covid-19 lockdown measures eased, there was unsurprisingly a big increase in sales, although registrations were still 12.9% down on the April average from 2010-2019.

Comparisons with April 2020 are effectively meaningless, as only a few thousand cars were sold in total during that month during the first lockdown.

Following last month's sales, and citing a more upbeat economic outlook, the SMMT has increased its whole-year projection for 2021, from 1.83 million to 1.86 million. However, while this would be a 13.9% improvement on 2020, it would still be 20.2% down on the 2010-2019 average.

In terms of fuel mix, the SMMT highlighted how plug-in hybrids had taken a larger share of the overall market in April (6.8%), than pure EVs (6.5%), something it attributed to the UK Government reducing and tightening eligibility for the plug-in car grant.

The SMMT said it had therefore also revised its year-end pure EV market share prediction, from 9.3% to 8.9%.

In another stark month for diesel car registrations, they formed just 9.9% of the market in April - although a further 6.6% of the market was diesel mild hybrids.

Petrol cars took a 50.3% market share, while 11.7% of new cars were petrol mild hybrids.

Conventional hybrids accounted for 8.3% of registrations.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "After one of the darkest years in automotive history, there is light at the end of the tunnel. A full recovery for the sector is still some way off, but with showrooms open and consumers able to test drive the latest, cleanest models, the industry can begin to rebuild. 

"Market confidence is improving, and we now expect to finish the year in a slightly better position than anticipated in February, largely thanks to the more upbeat business and consumer confidence created by the successful vaccine rollout."