New car registrations in Wales rose the most in mainland Britain last month, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufactuers and Traders.
Welsh showrooms saw 4,166 new cars leaving in 2022 compared to 2,654 as the year started in 2021, a 56.97% jump.
The latest figures from the SMMT show that 115,087 new cars were registered in January, some 24,838 more than the same month last year, when dealerships were forced to close in line with social distancing restrictions.
Some 62,300 cars went to private buyers, a 64.1% year-on-year increase and just 5.6% down on pre-pandemic levels.
Fleet registrations, by contrast, remained steady at 50,817 units, down just 0.4%. Van registrations fell by almost 27%.
It was another bumper month for registrations of electrified vehicles, with pure-electric cars, plug-in hybrids and full hybrids accounting for a huge 71.5% proportion of the increase in registrations.
Almost a third of all new cars registered in January were electrified – of which 9047 were PHEVs and 14,433 were pure-electric.
But, said the SMMT, “ the recovery is expected to continue into 2023, with the market projected to climb above two million units for the first time since 2019.”
Chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Given the lockdown-impacted January 2021, this month’s figures were always going to be an improvement but it is still reassuring to see a strengthening market.
“Once again, it is electrified vehicles that are driving the growth, despite the ongoing headwinds of chip shortages, rising inflation and the cost-of-living squeeze.
Alex Buttle, co-founder of used car marketplace Motorway.co.uk said, “On the surface, a 27.5% rise in new car sales in January feels like an encouraging start to the New Year, but we shouldn’t read too much into this figure.
“This uplift is largely because of low sales in January 2021 with car showrooms shut due to lockdown restrictions, rather than the start of a recovery.
“The reality is that new car sales continue to be stuck in the slow lane. And with little evidence to suggest an easing of ongoing supply chain blockages and microchip shortages that beset car manufacturers last year, the new car market has some tough months ahead.
“EV and plug-in registrations have at least carried on where they left off in 2021, bolstering overall new car sales; although it’s worth noting that electric car sales were down almost 50% on December figures.
“With further government investment into EV infrastructure on the cards, and more people embracing the idea of early switching, we should see electric car numbers continue to rise through the year.
James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars added, “After a testing 2021, the new car market is back in gear and accelerating, with one in five buyers now going electric. But as the market moves up through the gears, supply side speed bumps lie ahead.
“Business is getting brisker on forecourts, and dealers are working hard to deliver cars to customers who have already placed orders. BEV sales in particular are soaring, and are up by more than a 130% compared to January last year.
“But while the pandemic’s cooling effect on demand has eased, supply problems continue to dog the industry. Dealers cannot complete sales when the vehicles simply aren’t there to be delivered.
“In many parts of the UK, the supply of new cars is so tight that customers placing an order often have to wait several weeks, or even months, to get their vehicle. In some cases, dealers don’t even have sufficient stock to be able to offer prospective buyers a test drive.
Fuel economy is slipping down the list of priorities of used car buyers, despite rocketing pump prices, according to a popular online car supermarket.
BuyaCar.co.uk says that its customers filtered their car searches by MPG figures almost 40% less during January this year than in the same month a year ago.
Analysts note that this is in line with research by parent company Autovia, which closely tracks the behaviour and opinions of car owners, showing that model styling and brand image are the biggest motivating factors when buying a car.
Founder and CEO of Electrifying.com Ginny Buckley urges drivers up and down the country to make the most of the government’s Plug In Car Grant and Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme to avoid missing out on savings of up to £1,850.
This comes as vehicle manufacturers have reduced the price of popular family cars including, making the switch even more affordable for drivers up and down the country.
The Plug-in Car Grant is now available on fully-electric cars costing £32,000 or less and provides £1,500 towards the purchase price. Since its introduction in 2011, the grant has gradually decreased as electric cars have become cheaper and demand for them has surged.
The government grants for electric vehicles are slowly being phased out, meaning car buyers should act quickly to make the most of the savings.
MPs have called on the Governemnt to replace existing fuel and excise duties to be replaced with mileage charge for all vehicles.
The Commons Transport Select Committee members say this would be fairer and enable electric vehicles to pay their way as they currently are free of excise and don’t pay a specific tax for charging.