Best October for new car registrations since 2019, but EV growth is still ‘subdued’ – SMMT

  • October saw 153,529 cars hit UK roads – a 14.3% increase
  • Last month was best October since 2019, says SMMT
  • Growth was due ‘almost entirely’ to large fleets; private EV sales still muted

Time 9:40 am, November 6, 2023

The number of cars registered in the UK in October rose by more than 14% with the market ‘defying expectations’ – but EV growth is still subdued, latest figures say.

Last month saw 153,529 cars hit UK roads – a 14.3% increase year on year and a 7.2% rise above pre-pandemic 2019, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals.

The growth was driven ‘almost entirely’ by large fleets, though, said the SMMT, which rose by just under 29%. Private registrations lifted 0.3% to 62,915, while business sales fell by 15.2% to 3,135.

The SMMT said that registrations are up by 19.6% in the first 10 months of the year, making 2023 the best year since 2019.

It will slightly revise upwards its forecast for the number of new cars that will be registered in 2023 and 2024.

Its previous forecast, issued in July, predicted that registrations would reach around 1,847,000 this year and 1,951,000 next year.

Electrified vehicles accelerated again in October, with hybrids rising by 24.6%, plug-in hybrids up 60.5% and battery-electrics (BEVs) growing by 20.1%.

The market share of new BEVs last month remained steady at 15.6% – a relatively small rise from last year’s 14.8%.

Private BEV sales accounted for fewer than one in four new BEVs this year, ‘underscoring the need for fiscal incentives for private consumers’, said the SMMT.

Meanwhile, the SMMT noted that 4,753 new charging points were installed in the last quarter – the largest ever quarterly delivery.

The Ford Puma was October’s best-seller at 4,824 registrations, followed by the Mini (3,779) and the Vauxhall Corsa (3,464).

The Puma remains the year-to-date top seller too at 42,136. The Nissan Qashqai holds second place with 34,952 and the Corsa is in third with 33,641.

SMMT chief Mike Hawes said: ‘With demand for new cars surpassing pre-pandemic levels in the month, the market is defying expectations and driving growth.

‘As fleet uptake flourishes, particularly for EVs, sustained success depends on encouraging all consumers to invest in the latest zero emission vehicles.

‘The Autumn Statement is a key opportunity for government to introduce incentives and facilitate infrastructure investment. Doing so would send a clear signal of support for drivers, reassuring them that now is the time to switch to electric.’


James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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