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Retail car sales and EV demand hold firm despite economic headwinds

Private new car sales remained robust in July despite economic headwinds, says The Car Expert.

More releases from The Car Expert

4 August 2022

  • Private new car sales remain static in July versus the same month in 2021
  • Rise in interest rates to 1.75% could increase the cost of car finance
  • Two best selling cars in July, the Nissan Qashqai and Mini hatch, both built in Britain
  • Demand for EVs unaffected despite withdrawal of the electric car grant
  • Sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles suffering as buyers opt for fully electric vehicles or stick with familiar petrol models
  • Trend for cheaper, greener and smaller vehicles continues with strong demand for Dacia and MG

Private new car sales remained robust in July despite economic headwinds says The Car Expert following the publication of the latest market data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT).

While retail sales have held up relatively well throughout the year, the interest rate hike announced today jumping to 1.75% is likely to impact the cost of car finance deals.

The data reveals that homegrown vehicles are proving popular, with the top two best selling vehicles, Nissan Qashqai and Mini hatch, built in Sunderland and Oxford respectively.

Strong results for British brands in July also saw Land Rover and MG log impressive figures, with year-to-date sales data showing 49% and 28% improvements respectively compared to the same month last year.

The challenging economic environment and withdrawal of the plug-in grant have not dented demand for electric vehicles, after recording a 50% year-to-date improvement compared to 2021.

However, sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) are suffering as buyers embrace fully electric vehicles or stick with more familiar internal combustion engine models. Registrations for PHEVs are down 15% so far this year compared to 2021.

Stuart Masson, Editorial Director at The Car Expert, the UK’s most comprehensive automotive consumer advice site, said: “We’ve seen a solid enough year so far in terms of retail sales; it is a brighter picture than some might suggest despite the fleet market taking a bit of a hit this year as car companies focus on private sales.

“It is great to see British built vehicles performing so well. Whether this is a patriotic impulse or just a coincidence is hard to say, but elsewhere British brands are doing well too, with both MG and Land Rover recording excellent results in July.

It is also interesting to note that the trend for smaller, cheaper and greener cars generally is still very much present. We expect this shift will continue while consumers have to tighten their belts. This pattern could be exacerbated by the news of today’s interest rate hike, forcing buyers to choose more affordable options as finance deals get pricier.”


The Car Expert

Founded in 2011, The Car Expert is the UK’s most comprehensive automotive consumer advice site. With an audience of over two million readers a year, The Car Expert provides independent and impartial advice on every aspect of buying, financing, owning, and selling new or used vehicles.

The Rotten Tomatoes equivalent for the automotive world, The Car Expert consolidates reviews from 30 of the UK’s top automotive websites to create the Expert Rating Index. Bringing together science and data analysis, the index calculates a weighted average to give an aggregated score – Expert Rating – that is comparable across different brands and models.

The Expert Rating Index factors in the age of each review, so that newer reviews carry more weight than older reviews. It also breaks down the complex web of different scoring systems that various websites use in their reviews.

The Car Expert has logged over 13,000 reviews covering more than 400 cars and over 50 manufacturers, with its Expert Rating Index now trusted as the gold standard for rating and ranking new cars in the UK.

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