New car sales rise 10% in December as sector enjoys strong end to 2023

  • New car sales enjoy 10% year-on-year rise to 141,092 in final month of 2023
  • Rise is driven by fleet sales which totalled 92,662
  • Tesla Model Y was the month’s best selling new model

Time 11:40 am, January 5, 2024

New car sales enjoyed a near 10% rise in the final month of 2023, following on from the best November in four years.

Figures published this morning (Jan 5) by the SMMT have revealed that a total of 141,092 new cars were registered in December, compared to 128,462 in the same month of 2022.

The leap represents a 9.8 per cent increase year-on-year but is well down on November’s figure of 156,525 – the month’s best return since 2019.

December’s results were driven largely by improved fleet sales which rose 32.9% from 69,701 units in 2022 to 92,662 in 2023.

Elsewhere, private sales dropped 14% from 52,414 units to 45,084 units and business sales decreased 47.3% to 3,346 from 6,347.

In the year as a whole, 1,903,504 new cars were registered – the best result since the pandemic.

When it came to powertrains, petrol cars were the biggest sellers in December with 54,360, followed by battery electric vehicles and mild petrol hybrids, which saw 27,841 and 20,714 registrations respectively.

At the other end of the scale, just 4,891 new diesels and 4,837 new mild diesel hybrids were registered in the final month of the year.

December also saw the Tesla Model Y take the best-selling car title, contributing to it being the best selling EV of the entire year.

The American EV saw 4,816 registrations in the 12th month of the year, placing it well clear of the second placed Nissan Qashqai on 4,253.

The Mini (3,608) and the MG HS (3,362) also featured highly on the list of registrations, while 2023’s best selling car – the Ford Puma – came fifth with 3,157.

In response to December’s results, Lisa Watson, director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: ‘Another month of increased registrations paints a positive picture for the year ahead, as the motor industry is getting back on track in the wake of the pandemic and subsequent economic challenges. 

‘However, more needs to be done to support a shift to electric vehicle adoption as the numbers remain inflated by fleet vehicles.

‘Consumers continue to be put off by high EV purchase costs and a lack of infrastructure, with research from Close Brothers Motor Finance showing that only 14% of motorists expect their next car purchase to be an EV.’

Echoing those thoughts, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, added: ‘Energised by fleet investment, particularly in the latest EVs, the challenge for 2024 is to deliver a green recovery.

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December 2023’s best selling new models

  1. Tesla Model Y – 4,816
  2. Nissan Qashqai – 4,253
  3. Mini – 3,608
  4. MG HS – 3,362
  5. Ford Puma – 3,157
  6. Vauxhall Corsa – 2,990
  7. Volkswagen Golf – 2,555
  8. Nissan Juke – 2,473
  9. Volkswagen Polo – 2,415
  10. Ford Kuga – 2,353
Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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