The UK’s new car market recorded its best July for registrations since the Covid-19 pandemic following a huge uptick in sales to fleets last month.
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the fleet market grew by 61.9% compared with July 2022. Sales to fleets accounted for 56% of the UK’s total figure last month, which reached 143,921 units.
This total represents a year-on-year increase of 28.3% in new car sales but it is still behind the 157,198 recorded in July 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sales of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) increased 87.9% compared with June 2022, to 23,010 units. However, BEVs’ market share was “broadly consistent with that seen so for this year”, the SMMT said.
A similar sales boost of 79.1% was also seen for plug-in hybrids. These increases are explained by the significant tax incentive offered to fleet users for running BEVs and PHEVs.
Benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax for BEVs is currently set at 2%, while PHEVs with CO2 emissions rated at 1-50g/km are charged between 2-14%, depending on their range in electric mode. Meanwhile, a mild-hybrid-petrol Ford Puma Ecoboost mHEV 125 (rated at 122g/km) is placed in the 22% BIK bracket.
Pure-petrol engines remained the best-selling powertrain, recording 58,150 sales – a 5.3% decline in market share year on year. They were followed by mild-hybrid petrols, with 23,590 sales.
The SMMT welcomed news that 3056 public EV chargers were installed between April and June – a quarterly record – but it urged the government to build more “ahead of need”. It said: “To reach the government’s minimum target of 300,000 chargers by 2030, the installation rate must treble to almost 10,000 chargers per quarter, every quarter.”
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes added: “Government must pull every lever, therefore, to make buying, running and, especially, charging an EV affordable and practical for every driver in every part of the country.”