New car registrations grew 28.0% year-on-year in June to 186,128, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, even as the overall market’s recovery continued to be squeezed by supply issues.
Despite the increase against the 2020 figures, the SMMT noted that the monthly performance was “artificially lifted” due to the UK only beginning to emerge from the first nationwide Covid-19 lockdowns and the reopening of showrooms in England during the same month a year earlier.
When compared to the previous decade average, however, monthly registrations were down 16.4% and total registrations for the second quarter fell short of industry expectations by around 9,000 units, partly due to the ongoing global semiconductor shortage.
Battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles accounted for 17.2% of new vehicles hitting the road in the month, while private registration numbers were “positive but subdued” compared to large fleets, with consumer uptake increasing 30.6% year-on-year compared to 47.8% for fleets.
All vehicle sizes, besides executive and multi-purpose vehicles, saw growth in June, with the strongest seen in the mini segment, with superminis the most popular car class, accounting for 34.1% of registrations.
The SMMT noted that while economic confidence appeared to be continuing to strengthen, new registrations remained well shy of pre-pandemic levels, with overall registrations for the first half of the year down 26.8%.
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.”