Dealers “optimistic” after promising start to 2022
The automotive sector has seen a positive start to 2022, as new car registrations rise, the electric vehicle market continues its rapid growth, and dealers are confident of the year ahead. Over 115,000 new cars were registered in January, up 27.5% on the previous year, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Last year the market was constrained by lockdown restrictions, which saw car showrooms shut their doors, and new car registrations are still down by almost 23% on 2020, with chip shortages being blamed for supply issues. Despite this, the growth from 2021 is being hailed as a “reassuring” and “encouraging” sign that consumer demand is on the rise.
What the figures show
The large increase in new car registrations was driven by private buyers, according to the figures, which show a 64% uplift year on year – down by around 5% on pre-pandemic levels. Electrified vehicles also continue to show incredible growth, with BEVs, PHEVs, and hybrids accounting for over 71% of the uplift. Almost one in three new cars joining British roads in January was electrified.
The SMMT forecasts registrations of BEVs and PHEVs to grow by 61% and 42% respectively in 2022 – meaning one in four new cars will come with a plug. Overall, total new car registrations are expected to rise over 15% from the previous year. A poll run by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) last week showed that 85% of franchised dealers are optimistic about levels of consumer demand in the year ahead.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “Given the lockdown-impacted January 2021, this month’s figures were always going to be an improvement but it is still reassuring to see a strengthening market. Once again it is electrified vehicles that are driving the growth, despite the ongoing headwinds of chip shortages, rising inflation and the cost-of-living squeeze. 2022 is off to a reasonable start, however, and with around 50 new electrified models due for release this year, customers will have an ever greater choice, which can only be good for our shared environmental ambitions.”
Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of the NFDA, said: “It is encouraging to see that demand from private consumers drove the market in January, with extremely strong performances in the EV segments. At the same time, as customers come to terms with new vehicles’ lead times, also the used car market remains robust.
“Last year, as showrooms were closed, retailers relied on online sales and click & collect; however, the majority of franchised dealers reported that the volume of online enquiries in January was stable or, in most cases, up from the same period in 2021, showing that consumer appetite is buoyant. Going forward, there is confidence that demand will pick up further as supply improves.”
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