Forecast UK car sales fall 9% amid war in Ukraine

Nissan Qashqai was the best-selling car in the UK last month

About 1.72 million new cars will be registered in 2022, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

This is down 9% from the forecast of 1.89 million released in January.

The reduction comes as the number of new cars registered in April fell 16% year-on-year.

Some 119,167 new cars were registered last month, compared to 141,583 in April 2021.

This is despite lockdown restrictions meaning showrooms were closed for the first 11 days of April last year.

Jaguar Land Rover, which has its engine manufacturing center in Wolverhampton, saw sales fall, but MG, which is based in Longbridge, continued to see sales growth of its foreign-made vehicles of 26.4 % at 2,714.

Jaguar sales fell 43.8% to 1,119, while Land Rover fell 29% to 4,523.

The best-selling brand was Ford with 10,060 cars registered (8.4% of the total market), but down 22.3%.

The best-selling car of the month at 3,804 was the Nissan Qashqai.

SMMT Managing Director Mike Hawes said, “Global semiconductor shortages continue to drag the market down, with global geopolitical issues threatening to undermine both supply and demand in the months ahead.

“Manufacturers are doing everything they can to deliver the latest low- and zero-emission vehicles, and those considering buying should look to place their orders now to benefit from incentives, low interest rates and lower costs. reduced operation.

“Accelerating the transformation of the new car market and the carbon savings demanded of road transport in these difficult times requires not only the resolution of supply problems, but a broader set of measures that encourage customer demand and tackling obstacles, the most important of which remains fraught with anxiety.”

Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car? magazine and website, said the latest monthly figures show the auto industry is “in an increasingly precarious position”.

It has invested billions of pounds in developing new vehicles – including a series of electrified models – but production is “choked by world events” such as a shortage of semiconductors and the war in Ukraine, a- he explained.

He continued: “Although profitability is high, the industry cannot expect to thrive in such a difficult market indefinitely – and likewise consumers cannot bear the burden of paying rising prices without checks. , especially as the cost of living elsewhere emphasizes non-essential spending.”

Pure electric car registrations bucked the overall trend last month, rising 41% year-on-year.

The SMMT predicts that plug-in cars such as pure electric cars and plug-in hybrids will account for more than a quarter of the new car market by the end of 2022.

Alex Buttle, co-founder of used car marketplace, said: “While new car sales continue to disappoint overall, it’s electric vehicles once again providing the understudy. silver to the dark cloud hanging over the new car industry.”

Ben Nelmes, co-founder and chief policy officer of green car consultancy New AutoMotive, said the “steady growth” of electric cars is welcome, but the government needs to “move faster” to encourage more people to switch from petrol and diesel cars. .

The government plans to adopt a zero-emission vehicle mandate, which will require manufacturers to sell a certain percentage of these cars and vans from 2024.

Mr Nelmes called on ministers to introduce this at an “ambitious California-style” level.

The US state has implemented a ZEV mandate since 1990, with the percentage rising to 22% by 2025.

Sue Robinson, chief executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association, said: “New car sales continued to decline in April, largely due to supply-side constraints, due to continued lockdowns in China, which have an impact on the availability of new vehicles”.

James Fairclough, Managing Director of AA Cars, said: “After a painfully slow start to the year, things are getting worse for new car sales. The April slump follows the worst March sales figures for nearly two and a half decades, and the outlook remains mixed at best, thanks to low numbers of new cars hitting showrooms.

“Dealers are struggling to sell cars they don’t already have, and while determined buyers can place orders, many are put off by wait times of weeks or even months.

John Wilmot, managing director of car leasing comparison website LeaseLoco, added: “New car sales are being hampered by a number of factors. Vehicle availability has been an issue for some time, with supply chain issues and the continued shortage of microchips still unresolved.

“Now rising inflation has been thrown into the mix. Families are grappling with the rising cost of living, and this will likely make them more cautious about buying big-ticket items like a new car, even if the desire to buy is there.

“Strong electric vehicle and plug-in records are the only bright spot amid the gloom and clearly show where the road to recovery lies.”