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Manufacturers still prioritising private buyers over fleets as new car sales decline

Date: 05 May 2022   |   Author: Sean Keywood

UK new car registrations were down by 15.8% year-on-year in April, according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The organisation said the fall, which came despite April 2021 being partly affected by Covid-19 lockdown measures, was due to global supply chain shortages continuing to constrain new vehicle deliveries.

This was most keenly felt by the fleet sector, which saw registrations plummet by 33.3%, with the SMMT acknowledging that manufacturers were prioritising private customers "given robust demand".

Private registrations rose by 4.8%, for a 54.4% overall market share, while business registrations - classed as to fleets with fewer than 25 vehicles - were up by 15.4%, though these only account for 2.3% of the overall market.

The weakness of the overall figures has prompted the SMMT to downgrade its registrations forecast for the year. It is now predicting 1.72 million registrations during 2022, down from the 1.89 million it expected in January.

The SMMT said the sector faced further economic headwinds, including rising inflation, and further supply chain and other uncertainties arising from the global political situation.

April's figures did have a positive angle regarding pure EV sales, which showed continued growth, up by 40.9% year-on-year for a 10.8% market share.

In contrast, plug-in hybrids were down by 36.6% for a 5% market share, while conventional hybrids were up by 18.3% for an 11.7% share.

Mild hybrid petrol registrations were up by 12.5% for a 15.6% market share, while mild hybrid diesels were down by 36.6%, taking 5% of the market.

Petrol car registrations were down by 23.2%, taking 45.8% of the market, while diesel registrations were down by 52% for just a 5.6% market share.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "The worldwide semiconductor shortage continues to drag down the market, with global geopolitical issues threatening to undermine both supply and demand in the coming months. 

"Manufacturers are doing everything they can to deliver the latest low and zero emission vehicles, and those considering purchase should look to place their orders now to benefit from incentives, low interest rates and reduced running costs. 

"Accelerating the transformation of the new car market and the carbon savings demanded of road transport in such difficult times requires not just the resolution of supply issues, however, but a broader package of measures that encourages customer demand and addresses obstacles, the biggest of which remains charging anxiety."