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New car market grows for sixth month in a row

The UK's new car market has grown for six consecutive months, new figures show.

The MG HS was the top seller in the UK in January

Some 131,994 new cars were registered last month, up 14.7% on January 2022, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said.

Electrified vehicles are driving the increase.

Registrations of hybrid electric vehicles were 40.6 per cent higher in January than during the same month in 2022.

The market share for pure electrics was 13.1 per cent, down from an average of 16.6 per cent last year.

Jaguar Land Rover, which has its engine manufacturing centre at Wolverhampton, enjoyed a rise in sales. Land Rover was up 12.6 per cent to 3,185 and Jaguary rose 55.6 per cent to 1,026.

MG, which is based at Longbridge and has its cars made aborad, sawe sales jump 108.7 per cent to 7,433 with the MG HS the top seller in the Uk at 3,481.

Volkswagen topped the Uk sales charts with 12,427.

A new SMMT forecast anticipates total registrations across the whole of 2023 will reach 1.79 million, up 11.1 per cent on last year.

The industry body warned that the rollout of new electric vehicle charge points is failing to keep pace with demand.

It stated that the ratio of new charge point installations to new plug-in cars fell from 1:42 in the final three months of 2021 to 1:62 between October and December last year.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "The automotive industry is already delivering growth that bucks the national trend and is poised, with the right framework, to accelerate the decarbonisation of the UK economy.

"The industry and market are in transition, but are fragile due to a challenging economic outlook, rising living costs and consumer anxiety over new technology.

"We look to a Budget that will reaffirm the commitment to net zero and provide measures that drive green growth for the sector and the nation."

Ian Plummer, commercial director at online vehicle marketplace Auto Trader, said: "Against a backdrop of economic turbulence, six months in a row of year-on-year growth for the new car market is something to cheer, but sales of electric vehicles have come back down to earth.

"On our marketplace, demand for new electric vehicles is at a three-year low thanks to higher energy bills.

"They now account for fewer than one in 10 of all new car inquiries being sent to retailers - down from almost 30% last summer."

Jim Holder, editorial director of magazine What Car?, said: "Electric vehicles were the success story last year.

"For uptake to continue growing this year it's crucial the cost-of-living crisis is contained, as the technology continues to command a premium over petrol and diesel models."

Mark Oakley, director of AA Cars, said: “New car sales have begun the year brightly, and January’s upbeat figures mean year-on-year registrations have now risen for six months in a row.

“Welcome though it is, the surge in sales is partly a case of the market playing catch-up, as manufacturers work through the backlog of orders that were placed, but not fulfilled, last year as supply chain disruption held back the supply of new cars."

Alex Buttle, co-founder of used car marketplace, commented: “The freezing temperatures at the start of the year may have kept people indoors, but it didn’t put them off buying a new car. Last year’s slow new car sales have certainly sped up this winter."

John Wilmot, chief executive of car leasing comparison website LeaseLoco, added: “Last year was a gruelling one for the new car market, with ongoing production issues, part shortages and the higher cost of living dragging on sales.

“January registrations are a positive start to 2023, and a sixth consecutive month of growth shouldn’t be sniffed at, but the car industry should be under no illusions that the next few months are going to be challenging.

“The UK is teetering on the edge of a recession. Inflation remains above 10 per cent and the Bank of England base rate is now at four per cent, adding hundreds of pounds a month onto many homeowners’ mortgage costs. Higher food, energy and fuel costs are stretching peoples’ finances to breaking point.

“It may be asking a lot to expect consumers to loosen their purse strings and buy big ticket items such as a new car under the weight of such economic pressures, unless they need to or have available savings to take advantage of some favourable discounts."

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