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UK new car sales rise in April as lockdown eases

  • Market: Metals
  • 05/05/21

Total new car registrations in the UK surged higher in April as lockdown restrictions eased compared to a year earlier, but remains below the decade average for the month, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

In April, 141,583 new cars were registered in the UK, which was significantly higher than the 4,321 cars registered in the same month last year when lockdown measures shuttered showrooms and much of the UK's economy. But the SMMT said volumes remain 12.9pc lower than the 10-year average of 162,537.

Overall registrations for 2021 stand at 567,108 units, down 31.5pc from the 10-year average of 839,804.

Retail demand for private vehicles saw the most significant recovery, rising to 61,935 units, up from 871, as click-and-collect orders supported the market before dealerships mostly opened on 12 April across the UK. The lifting of lockdown restrictions differs across the UK's devolved nations.

"After one of the darkest years in automotive history, there is light at the end of the tunnel. A full recovery for the sector is still some way off, but with showrooms open and consumers able to test drive the latest, cleanest models, the industry can begin to rebuild," SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said.

"Market confidence is improving, and we now expect to finish the year in a slightly better position than anticipated in February, largely thanks to the more upbeat business and consumer confidence created by the successful vaccine rollout.

"That confidence should also translate into another record year for electric vehicles, which will likely account for more than one in seven new car registrations."

Electric vehicle registrations — including battery-electric, plug-in hybrid electric and hybrid electric — rose to 30,545 units in April, up from 1,517 in the same month last year.

Registrations for petrol and diesel cars increased to 85,185 units combined in April, rising from 2,632 a year earlier. A further 25,853 mild-hybrid vehicles — petrol and diesel — were registered in the month, up from 112 in April of last year.

The SMMT has revised its forecast for 2021 and now expects 1.86mn new cars to be registered by the end of the year, a 13.9pc increase on 2020, and up from previous forecasts made in February of 1.83mn.


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