New car market up 9.5% in November

The number of new cars registered in the UK in November increased by 9.5%, figures show.

Some 156,525 new cars were registered last month, up from 142,889 in November 2022, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

The latest total was just 0.1% below pre-pandemic levels.

UK sales of new cars in November
(PA Graphics)

Growth was driven by fleets investing in new cars, with registrations rising 25.4%.

Demand from private buyers and businesses fell by 5.9% and 32.7% respectively.

The market share of pure battery electric new cars last month was 15.6%, down from 20.6% a year ago when sales surged due to a large number of deliveries.

Year-to-date market share is 16.3%, compared with 15.1% at the same point in 2022.

The SMMT reiterated its calls for post-Brexit rules of origin requirements set to be introduced for trade between the UK and the EU from January 1 to be postponed.

Annual sales of new cars in the UK
(PA Graphics)

Tariffs of 10% are due to be imposed on exports of electric cars if at least 45% of their value does not originate in the UK or EU.

Manufacturers will struggle to meet that threshold as battery production within Europe has not increased as quickly as hoped.

The SMMT previously estimated the tariffs could result in an average price rise of £3,400 on EU-manufactured pure battery electric vehicles bought in the UK.

Meanwhile, at least 22% of new cars sold by each manufacturer in the UK next year must be zero-emission, which generally means pure electric, under the Government’s zero-emission vehicles mandate.

The threshold will rise each year until it reaches 100% by 2035.

Failure to abide by the rule or make use of flexibilities, such as carrying over allowances from previous years, will result in a requirement to pay the Government £15,000 per polluting car sold above the limits.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Britain’s new car market continues to recover, fuelled by fleets investing in the latest and greenest new vehicles.

“With car makers gearing up to meet their responsibilities under new market legislation, and Cop28 currently under way, now is the time to take sensible steps that will multiply that economic growth and minimise carbon emissions.

“Private EV buyers need incentives in line with those that have so successfully driven business uptake – and workable trade rules that promote rather than penalise the transition.”

Ian Plummer, commercial director at online vehicle marketplace Auto Trader, said: “November’s drop in electric vehicle sales is a sign of what’s to come if the Government doesn’t support the industry in making the transition by incentivising consumers on this journey, as we know private electric car registrations have been lagging that of the fleet sector for a while now.”