SMMT: New car market recovery squeezed by supply issues
Registrations of new cars in June grew 28.0 per cent year-on-year to 186,128, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)’s latest figures. The monthly performance was again artificially lifted through comparison with June 2020, when the UK began to emerge from the first pandemic lockdown and showrooms in England opened up at the beginning of the month.
Compared with the previous decade average, however, monthly registrations were down 16.4 per cent while total registrations for Q2 2021 fell short of industry expectations by around 9,000 units (compared with the June average of 222,652 units in the years 2010 to 2019), partly as the ongoing global semiconductor shortage acted as a limiting factor on supply. As a result, overall registrations for the first half of the year declined 26.8 per cent (compared with the January to June average of 1,242,944 units between 2010 and 2019).
Plug-in vehicles continued to increase market share.3 Combined, battery electric (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) accounted for 17.2 per cent of new vehicles hitting the road (31,981 units). BEVs accounted for 10.7 per cent of registrations. PHEV uptake, however, continued to grow faster than BEV uptake for the third month running, following reductions to the Plug-in Car Grant in March.
Private registration numbers were positive but subdued compared to large fleets, reflecting an ongoing trend for the year with consumer uptake increasing 30.6 per cent year on year, compared to 47.8 per cent for fleets.
All vehicle sizes – bar executive and multi-purpose – saw growth in June, with the strongest growth seen in the mini segment, which had been relatively weak for several months. Superminis were the most popular car class, accounting for 34.1 per cent of registrations, followed by lower medium (26.8%) and dual purpose (24.5%).
Vehicle supply ‘long Covid’
“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,” comments Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. “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,” Hawes continues. “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.”