The UK’s new car market continued its post-pandemic recovery in June, the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reveal, but semiconductor supply issues hampered a stronger bounce back.
A total of 186,128 new cars were registered in June, which represents a 28% improvement on the same period in 2020, when dealerships were allowed to open again in the wake of the first coronavirus lockdown.
The SMMT notes, however, that June’s registration figures were down 16.4% compared with the decade average, and that the number of cars registered during the second quarter of 2021 fell 9000 units short of expectations, partly as a result of the ongoing semiconductor shortage restricting new car output.
Overall registrations for the first half of 2021, says the SMMT, are down 26.8% from the 2010-2019 average.
Against this backdrop, however, it was an encouraging month for sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles, which nearly doubled their market share over June 2020, selling 12,139 units, representing 6.5% of all registrations. Battery-electric vehicles, meanwhile, claimed 10.7% of sales, compared with 46.4% for pure-petrol vehicles and 8.1% for diesel.
The SMMT highlights that June was the third month running that PHEV sales outstripped pure-electric vehicles, a trend that it attributes to the recent reduction of the government’s plug-in car grant.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “With the final phases of the UK’s vaccine roll-out well under way and confidence increasing, the automotive sector is now battling against a ‘long Covid’ of vehicle supply challenges.
"The semiconductor shortages arising from Covid-constrained output globally are affecting vehicle production, disrupting supply on certain models and restricting the automotive recovery.
“However, rebuilding for the next decade is now well under way with investment in local battery production beginning and a raft of new electrified models in showrooms.
"With the end of domestic restrictions later this month looking more likely, business and consumer optimism should improve further, fuelling increased spending, especially as the industry looks towards September and advanced orders for the next plate change.”