New car registrations rose 4.6% from the same month in 2021, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
There were 225,269 new cars registered in the UK in September, which is usually the industry’s second busiest month of the year due to the release of new number plates.
September last year was the weakest since 1998, and the number of registrations last month was 34.4% below pre-pandemic levels as the industry continued to struggle with problems supply. So far, new car sales in the year are down 8.2% from the same period in 2021.
More than a million new plug-in electric cars have now been registered in the UK, including 249,575 this year alone, the SMMT noted.
The adoption of electric vehicles continued to increase, although at a slower rate of growth than at the start of the year.
Karen Johnson, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays Corporate Banking, said: “Could we see a run on new cars? Dealerships across the country have reported increased demand in recent weeks as buyers seek to get ahead of rising interest costs.
“While we have seen some short-term supply relief allowing dealers to respond to the backlog of orders, there are still significant delays to manage moving forward.
“Going forward, dealers will worry about the long-term impact of rising financial costs on demand for new cars.”
Alex Buttle, co-founder of used car market Motorway.co.uk, said: “Anyone who expected the traditional peak in new car consumption in September to coincide with the ‘new’ plates of registration will unfortunately be disappointed.
“With widespread concerns about skyrocketing energy costs, inflation and now mortgage increases, combined with ongoing supply chain issues, can we really be surprised at the marginal growth in new car sales?
“The glow of the sun that pierces through the rain clouds is EV [electric vehicle] sales that remain strong.
Meanwhile Vertu Motors, the car dealership heavyweight with a dozen Macklin Motors showrooms in Scotland, posted its highest second half profit as new car prices continue to climb.
The group said it made £28million in profit in the first half after raking in £2billion in revenue. That’s almost half of the £52million the group made last year after the bumper post-pandemic period when prices for new and used cars soared.
But new car prices continued to climb and were up 13% in the six months to the end of August compared to the same period last year. The average sale price for a new vehicle was £24,294.
Vertu, which declared an interim dividend of 0.7p per share, down from 0.65p, said consumers “continue to accept” long lead times for new cars due to shortages, and its levels order bank remain very high.
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