New car registrations rose the most in Wales last month, better than any other part of the UK.
Dealers in Wales declared 4,890 new cars registered compared to 4,166 a year earlier, a rise of 17.4%.
In the UK as a whole, 131,714 new cars were registered in January, 14% improvement so the Welsh sales outpaced the rest of the country.
Volkswagen, Ford and Audi were the top three best selling brands as the year opened better than in 2022 but it was the MG HS which was the best seller across Britain including Wales.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “The automotive industry is already delivering growth that bucks the national trend and is poised, with the right framework, to accelerate the decarbonisation of the UK economy.
“The industry and market are in transition, but fragile due to a challenging economic outlook, rising living costs and consumer anxiety over new technology. We look to a Budget that will reaffirm the commitment to net zero and provide measures that drive green growth for the sector and the nation.”
The strong start to the year is mirrored in the latest market outlook, which anticipates 1.79 million new car registrations in 2023, an 11.1% increase on the past year but still well below 2019 levels.
RAC spokesperson Simon Williams said, “This January was the best ever start to a year for new electric car (BEV) registrations, in direct contrast to sales of new diesels.
“More than three times as many pure electric cars were registered than diesels, and 89% fewer diesels were registered this January compared to the same month four years ago. We estimate there are around 715,000 battery electric cars on the UK’s roads today, more than double the number from 15 months ago.”
He added,“We expect to see more than a million BEVs on the roads by the end of this year, led by continued fleet take-up, but more needs to be done to address the high up-front costs that prevents many private consumers who want to make switch from doing so.
“Without further financial support, we’re concerned many drivers will simply hold on to their existing cars for longer. We’d like to see the return of a plug-in car grant, aimed at the cheaper end of the EV market, to help stimulate demand and encourage car makers to produce more affordable models.”