March plate-change sees ‘sluggish’ retail sales and shrinking EV share

By automotive-mag.com 3 Min Read

Fleet sales drove the new car market in March with sales to private buyers in negative territory.

In what is typically the busiest month of the year 317,786 new cars reached the road with a 24 plate – the best March performance since 2019, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT).

Fleet sales rose 29.6% as the sector continues to recover following the constrained supply of previous years.

Registrations by private buyers fell by -7.7%, which the SMMT attributed to a “challenging economic backdrop of low growth, weak consumer confidence and high interest rates.” The small business registration segment declined -8%.

Petrol cars retained the lion’s share of the market, at 55.7%, with registrations up 9.2% year on year, as diesel volumes fell -2.7% to account for just 7.3% of demand.

Uptake of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) reached record levels, rising by 19.6% to 44,550 units and 14% of the market, while the biggest percentage growth was recorded by plug-in hybrids, up by more than a third to 24,517 units, or 7.7% of all new registrations.

Conversely, while battery electric vehicle (BEV) registration volumes were at their highest ever recorded levels, market share fell by one percentage point from the same month last year, down to 15.2%. Registrations rose 3.8%, with only fleets showing any volume growth.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Market growth continues, fuelled by fleets investing after two tough years of constrained supply.

“A sluggish private market and shrinking EV market share, however, show the challenge ahead.

“Manufacturers are providing compelling offers, but they can’t single-handedly fund the transition indefinitely.

“Government support for private consumers – not just business and fleets – would send a positive message and deliver a faster, fairer transition on time and on target.”

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