UK car sales rose last month but market still weak

Sales of new cars in the UK grew by 1.7 per cent last month compared with lockdown-hit November 2020 but the automotive industry has issued a warning about the market's "weakness".

MG saw its sales rise by 383.1 per cent last month
MG saw its sales rise by 383.1 per cent last month

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said 115,706 new cars were registered in the UK last month.

Although that halts four consecutive months of year-on-year decline, the total was 31.3 per cent down on the pre-pandemic five-year November average.

Luxury car maker Jaguar Land Rover, which has its engine manufacturing centre at the i54 north of Wolverhampton, saw sales drop on November 2020.

Battery electric vehicles represented nearly a fifth of the new car market last month.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "What looks like a positive performance belies the underlying weakness of the market.

"Demand is there, with a slew of new, increasingly electrified, models launched but the global shortage of semiconductors continues to bedevil production and therefore new car registrations.

"The industry is working flat out to overcome these issues and fulfil orders, but disruption is likely to last into next year, compounding the need for customers to place orders early.

"The continued acceleration of electrified vehicle registrations is good for the industry, the consumer and the environment but, with the pace of public charging infrastructure struggling to keep up, we need swift action and binding public charger targets so that everyone can be part of the electric vehicle revolution, irrespective of where they live."

Land Rover was down 36.8 per cent to 2,757 and Jaguar declined 31.7 per cent to 1,340.

MG, which has its headquarters at Longbridge but has its cars made abroad, saw sales soar by 383.1 per cent to 4,184.

Top selling brand for the month was BMW at 9,018 followed by Volkswagen at 8,634.

James Fairclough, chief executive at AA Cars, said: “After four miserable months that the motor industry would rather forget, the tide is finally turning for new car sales.

“Forecourts are gradually getting busier and many dealers are working overtime to get cars to customers who have already placed orders. But the patchy supply of new vehicles continues to peg back the number of sales dealers can make.

“Stock levels of certain models are so low that some dealers are even struggling to offer test drives, let alone fulfil customer orders in anything less than several weeks.

“The one silver lining is that the problem is the lack of vehicle supply rather than the lack of customer demand. But the cloud is that the supply issues could get worse before they get better."

Sue Robinson, chief executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association said the strong increase in sales to private buyers shows consumers are confident

Demand from private buyers rose 41.7 per cent from November 2020, while fleet registrations declined 24.7 per cent.

*For the year to date Jaguar sales are 20.7 per cent behind 2020 at 17,535 with Land Rover down 6.5 per cent at 50,442. MG is up 73.4 per cent on last year at 29,474.

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