October’s new car market grew by 14.3% to reach 153,529 registrations, 7.2% above pre-pandemic levels and marking the best performance for the month since 2018, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
The 15th month of consecutive growth was driven almost entirely by large fleet registrations, which grew 28.8% to reach 87,479 units.
Private demand was stable at 62,915 vehicles, a 0.3% increase, while the much smaller business sector saw registrations fall -15.2% to 3,135 units.
With the sustained increase in new car registrations, overall vehicle uptake is now up 19.6% in the first 10 months, with the market currently enjoying its best year since 2019.
Electrified vehicle uptake continued to accelerate in October accounting for 37.6% of all new car registrations. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) grew 24.6% to reach 19,574 units, while plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) recorded the highest proportional growth, up 60.5% to 14,285 registrations. Battery electric vehicle (BEV) uptake increased for the 42nd month in a row, by 20.1% to 23,943 units.
Given overall market growth, however, this amounted to a BEV market share of 15.6%, a relatively small rise from last year’s 14.8%. Furthermore, private registrations accounted for fewer than one in four new BEVs this year, underscoring the need for fiscal incentives for private consumers.
Year to date, BEV volumes have risen 34.2% to account for 16.3% of new registrations this year, up slightly from 14.6% this time last year.
October’s plug-in vehicle performance follows a significant increase in chargepoint rollout in Q3, which improved significantly relative to new plug-in car uptake. 4,753 new standard chargepoints came online in the quarter, the largest ever quarterly delivery.
Wales saw the least improvement for the month with 5,366 new cars registered, just 9.44% up on the same time a year ago, reflecting the fact that few big fleet buyers are based in Wales.
Britain’s new light commercial vehicle registrations increased by 17.7% in October with 26,342 of the very latest vans, pickups and 4x4s joining Britain’s fleets.
The growth is some 3.8% above pre-pandemic 2019 levels and rounds off 10 consecutive months of rising demand this year, totalling 284,321 units. This is the highest volume for two years as the easing of supply chain disruptions means that more operators can more readily renew their fleets.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “As the crucial pre-Christmas delivery period commences, there is a clear appetite for fleets to be fitted out with the latest vans – and it is of critical importance that those vans are the latest, cleanest zero emission models.
“With van makers committed to decarbonisation, the upcoming Autumn Statement is the moment for government to send the right signal to operators ahead of the introduction of the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate.”