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Brighter month for new car sales in June

Private new car sales showed improvement in June according to latest industry data, with electric car sales looking particularly good

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Private new car sales showed a welcome improvement in June compared to the same month last year, according to registration figures published this morning, with electric car sales looking particularly good.

The overall market was up by 26% on the same month last year, according to data published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). As has been the case all year, this was led by fleet registrations (up by 38%) relative to private registrations (up 15%).

There’s a big caveat to the headline figures, though. Although the SMMT touts the results as an eleventth consecutive month of growth, it’s really more of a rebound. This year’s growth of 26% mostly recovered from last year’s losses of 24%, meaning that June 2023 was still behind June 2021’s numbers. It’s also 21% behind 2019’s numbers (the last year before Covid), which was worse than 2018. Which was worse than 2017, which was worse than 2016…

What we are seeing quite consistently this year is that new car sales seem to be returning to the level they probably would have been if it wasn’t for Covid. There has been a steady decline in new car registrations since 2015, and the chart below shows that June 2023’s results have more or less returned to that trend line. Most months this year have shown the same thing.

We’ll have a detailed half-year analysis of the new car market in the next day or so.

Source: SMMT

A boost for private new car sales

After falling consumer new car sales over the last few months, June provided a welcome boost to reverse that trend. It also means that sales year-to-date have pushed back ahead of last year’s numbers for the first half of the year. Hopefully, this will continue for the second half of the year, assuming interest ates stop climing and inflation starts to subside.

For fleets, the Covid rebound has continued, with a 38% growth year-on-year bringing numbers back up to 2021 levels. This will almost certainly continue over the rest of 2023, although probably less dramatically than seen over the first half of the year.

June

BuyerJune 2023June 2022% changeMarket share 2023Market share 2022
Private79,79869,48514.8%45.0%49.3%
Fleet92,69967,24337.9%52.3%47.7%
Business4,7694,23012.7%2.7%3.0%
Total177,266140,95825.8%
Source: SMMT

Year to date

BuyerYTD 2023YTD 2022% changeMarket share 2023Market share 2022
Private435,325428,0661.7%45.8%53.4%
Fleet490,723354,47238.4%51.7%44.2%
Business23,67219,54121.1%2.5%2.4%
Total949,720802,07918.4%
Source: SMMT

EV sales on the up with another good month

After a flat four months to start the year, electric car registrations have shown much better results in May and June. This is the sort of performance we need to see every month as the UK edges ever-closer to the 2030 deadline for the end of new petrol and diesel car sales.

Even more significantly, the growth has come from a large number of car manufacturers, rather than just Tesla. EV registrations were up 39% in June, yet Tesla’s growth was ‘only’ 34%, meaning that other car brands collectively contributed more to this growth. This is a particularly good sign for the EV marketplace.

It will be crucial for these results to continue through the second half of the year, since the government is planning to introduce mandates on car companies to sell a minimum number of electric cars – if they don’t sell enough EVs, they will be limited in how many petrol or diesel cars they can sell.

Plug-in hybrids also had another month of improvement, up more than 65% on the same month last year. Diesel’s mareket share continues to fall, and this month we almost saw plug-in hybrids almost overtake diesel sales. It’s almost certain to happen in the next few months.

New car registrations by fuel type – June

FuelJune 2023June 2022% changeMarket share 2023Market share 2022
Petrol*98,89480,60622.7%55.8%57.2%
Electric31,70022,73739.4%17.9%16.1%
Hybrid20,99114,97840.1%11.8%10.6%
Diesel*12,91114,923-13.5%7.3%10.6%
Plug-in hybrid12,7707,71465.5%7.2%5.5%
Total177,266140,95825.8%

*includes mild hybrids
Source: SMMT

New car registrations by fuel type – Year to date

FuelYTD 2023YTD 2022% changeMarket share 2023Market share 2022
Petrol*539,606460,09117.3%56.8%57.4%
Electric152,968115,24932.7%16.1%14.4%
Hybrid119,67091,60230.6%12.6%11.4%
Diesel*75,32183,874-10.2%7.9%10.5%
Plug-in hybrid62,15551,26321.2%6.5%6.4%
Total949,720802,07918.4%

*includes mild hybrids
Source: SMMT

Good month, bad month

Although a 26% overall market growth sounds great, the spoils are never shared equally among all car brands. Some of them had a great month while others underachieved quite spectacularly.

June 2023 was a good month for Audi, Cupra, Ford, Genesis, Honda, Lexus, Mazda, MG, Nissan, Polestar, Porsche, Renault, Skoda, SsangYong, Subaru and Volvo. All of these brands outperformed the overall market by at least 10% (so achieved year-on-year growth of at least 36%).

Meanwhile, things weren’t so rosy for Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Alpine, Bentley, Citroën, Dacia, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Hyundai, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Maserati, Mini, Peugeot, SEAT, Smart, Toyota and Vauxhall. All of these brands underachieved against the overall market by at least 10% – and some by a lot more than that…

That means that the following brands were more or less in line with the overall market growth: BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Suzuki, Tesla and Volkswagen.

Volkswagen returned to the top of the brand charts, just ahead of Ford. Last month’s leader Audi fell back to third place, ahead of BMW and Vauxhall.

June

RankBrandRegistrationsMarket share
1Volkswagen15,1588.6%
2Ford14,7448.3%
3Audi12,2356.9%
4BMW11,6006.5%
5Vauxhall9,9275.6%
6Kia9,5945.4%
7Toyota9,4415.3%
8Hyundai8,4354.8%
9Mercedes-Benz8,1634.6%
10Nissan7,9684.5%

Source: SMMT

Year to date

RankBrandRegistrationsMarket share
1Volkswagen79,6218.4%
2Ford72,4287.6%
3Audi68,1207.2%
4Kia58,7606.2%
5Toyota56,0455.9%
6BMW52,2755.5%
7Vauxhall49,5055.2%
8Hyundai46,3514.9%
9Nissan45,3094.8%
10Mercedes-Benz42,7804.5%

Source: SMMT

Tesla Model Y on top in June

The Tesla Model Y is no stranger to the top of the UK sales charts, and made its second appearance at #1 in 2023 this month (it was also top in April). What you may find more surprising is that the Tesla Model Y is actually the world’s best-selling car in 2023 to date.

The Ford Puma dropped to second place, ahead of the Vauxhall Corsa. That means that the Puma has increased its lead over the Corsa in year-to-date sales, but it’s still close with half the year still to go.

Three UK-built cars occupied the middle ground of the top ten, with the Nissan Juke just edging its bigger sibling, the Nissan Qashqai, for fifth place. The Qashqai, in turn, just pipped the Mini hatch for sixth.

For the third month in a row, there was no Ford Fiesta in the top ten. With production of Ford’s famous little hatch ending this week, we’re unlikely to see it appear again. It’s currently clinging on to ninth place in year-to-date sales, but is likely to fall out imminently as supplies finally run out and the Fiesta disappears from the new car market forever.

We’ll have our full analysis of the top ten in the next day or so as usual.

June

RankBrandRegistrations
1Tesla Model Y5,539
2Ford Puma5,453
3Vauxhall Corsa4,146
4Hyundai Tucson3,588
5Nissan Juke3,256
6Nissan Qashqai3,232
7Mini hatch3,222
8Toyota Yaris3,162
9Kia Sportage3,081
10Vauxhall Mokka3,034

Source: SMMT

Year to date

RankBrandRegistrations
1Ford Puma22,765
2Vauxhall Corsa21,208
3Nissan Qashqai19,983
4Tesla Model Y19,551
5Hyundai Tucson18,678
6Nissan Juke18,380
7Kia Sportage18,057
8Mini hatch15,892
9Ford Fiesta15,359
10Vauxhall Mokka14,996

Source: SMMT

The latest from The Car Expert

Stuart Masson
Stuart Massonhttps://www.thecarexpert.co.uk/
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.