Currently reading: Fleets drive best July for UK’s new car sales since 2020
New car registrations in July rose 28% year on year, spurred on by a 62% increase in fleet sales

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.

Ford Puma 2021 front quarter driving

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.”

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According to the latest SMMT forecast, BEVs’ market share will reach 17.8%, up from the current 16.0%, by the end of the year. It anticipates that this will rise to 22.6% next year – in line with the government’s zero-emission-vehicle mandate requiring that 22% of all sales be ZEVs in 2024.

The best-selling car in the UK last month was the Ford Puma, which recorded 4124 registrations. It was followed by the Kia Sportage (3060) and the Nissan Qashqai (3032). The Qashqai was the UK’s overall best-seller in 2022.

Read more: Best-selling cars in the UK of 2023

Charlie Martin

Charlie Martin Autocar
Title: Editorial Assistant, Autocar

As a reporter, Charlie plays a key role in setting the news agenda for the automotive industry. He joined Autocar in July 2022 after a nine-month stint as an apprentice with sister publication, What Car?. He's previously contributed to The Intercooler, and placed second in Hagerty’s 2019 Young Writer competition with a MG Metro 6R4 feature

He is the proud owner of a Fiat Panda 100HP, and hopes to one day add a lightweight sports car like a Caterham Seven or a Lotus Elise S1 to his collection.

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jason_recliner 7 August 2023

The curse of Brexit strikes again!