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Strong start for private new car sales in January

Kia starts the new year on top, with strong performances from the Sportage and Niro

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Consumers have kicked off 2022 with a splurge on new cars, according to industry data published this morning, with results up more than 60% on the same month last year.

January’s new car registration results, released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), show that the number of private new cars sold was much higher than the same month last year – when many dealerships were closed during a Covid lockdown – and similar to 2020’s results. However, that’s still about 13% down on 2019.

Fleet registrations were flat, meaning that total new car registrations were up about 28% on last January. Overall, the data shows that the new car market is more or less continuing its gradual slide since peaking in 2016/17.

Shortages of crucial electronic chips continue to hamper supply, meaning that although the overall results are broadly in line with expectations, the make-up of those numbers continues to be as tumultuous as it was throughout most of last year.

Strong start for plug-in cars

Electric and plug-in hybrid cars had a better start to 2022 than they did last year, although not quite as strong as they ended 2021. It was a good month for regular hybrid cars, though, taking nearly 12% of the overall market – helped by a fantastic debut for the new Kia Sportage, plus a very good month for the Kia Niro and Toyota Corolla.

Electric cars continue to outsell diesel cars, even without a boatload of Teslas influencing the new car market as we saw last month. Overall, one in five new cars are plug-in models, which will continue to increase during the year.

Good month, bad month

As has been the case for almost a year now, the market has been heavily disrupted by production delays and parts shortages. Each car manufacturer has been dealing with problems for some or all of its models, while some models have been less affected.

Kia was comfortably the UK’s best-performing car company in January, thanks to a chart-topping performance for the new Sportage and a third place for the Niro. Audi took second place, edging parent company (and 2021 market leader) Volkswagen.

Once again, though, there were varying fortunes throughout the market. It was a good month for Alpine, Bentley, Cupra, Dacia, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, MG, Mini, Peugeot, Porsche, Renault, SsangYong, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota. All of these brands outperformed the overall market by at least 10% in January.

On the other side of the fence, it wasn’t a dream start to the year for Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Polestar, SEAT, Skoda, Smart, Vauxhall, Volkswagen or Volvo. All of these brands underachieved compared to the overall market by at least 10% (and in some cases, by a lot more than that).

New Kia Sportage starts the year on top

As well as leading the overall new car market, Kia topped the sales charts for individual models with the Sportage comfortably on top in January (presumably a mix of old and new models), while the Niro placed third.

The Ford Puma had its best market performance in many months to finish second, while the Mini hatch continued its renaissance after its most recent facelift in fourth place – just ahead of the 2021 sales champion, the Vauxhall Corsa.

The Ford Fiesta continues to be plagued by delays, with reports of seven-month waits for many models, while the Volkswagen Golf and Polo are also nowhere to be seen once again.

Expect this rocky road for new car supply to continue until at least Summer and possibly throughout the rest of the year.

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.