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Supply challenges continue to batter new car market in February

Superficial gains over last year mask deeper supply struggles across the board

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A 15% year-on-year increase in new car registrations in February sounds geat, but in reality it was hardly a month for celebrations.

According to results published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) yesterday, nearly 28,000 private new car sales took place in February, which was 30% better than the same month last year (when many showrooms were closed and the industry was only delivering cars on a home delivery or click-and-collect basis).

Fleet registrations were flat, with only a 2% increase, which resulted in an overall growth of 15% compared to February 2021. However, that was still about 25% below pre-pandemic years.

February results are often flakey anyway, as it’s one of the smallest months of the year for new car sales ahead of the new number plates rolling out in March.

Once again, the defining aspect of the results was the ongoing supply dramas that have forced car companies to reduce or suspend production of many different models. It’s been the same story for nearly a year now, and it’s going to keep rolling for most of 2022 – and that’s without Russia’s invasion of Ukraine making the supply situation even worse.

Source: SMMT

Strong month for plug-in power

More than a quarter of all new cars registered in February were either fully electric or plug-in hybrids, helped by the arrived of Tesla’s new Model Y crossover, which took fourth place on the sales charts. In fact, nine of the top ten cars sold in February are available with some level of plug-in power.

It was another decent month for regular hybrids (the ones that can’t be plugged in), which all contributed to a reduction in market share for pure petrol cars, while diesel continues to wither at under 10% of total market share.

Source: SMMT

Good month, bad month

Although the overall market was up 15% compared to last February, there was a wide range of gains and losses across the board as car manufacturers battle to keep factories running.

BMW was the biggest-selling brand in February, while Vauxhall edged Ford for second place by just 19 cars. Kia and Toyota made up the top five. The Volkswagen Group brands all struggled, which is presumably a consequence of supply problems.

Relative to the overall market, it was a good month for Alfa Romeo, Bentley, Citroën, Cupra, Dacia, Fiat, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Maserati, Mazda, Mini, Peugeot, Polestar, Porsche, Renault, SsangYong, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota and Vauxhall. All of these brands outperformed the market by at least 10%.

Meanwhile, life wasn’t so good for Abarth, Audi, Ford, Jeep, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, SEAT, Skoda, Smart, Volkswagen and Volvo – all of these underachieved against the overall market by at least 10%.

With February being such a ‘small’ month for the UK car industry, it doesn’t take many cars to create a fairly large swing either up or down. March’s results will be far more relevant to how they are all really doing.

Corsa back on top

The Vauxhall Corsa returned to the top of the charts in February, which also gave it the overall year-to-date sales lead as last month’s top-seller, the Kia Sportage, fell back out of the top ten altogether.

It was a good month for Vauxhall as the new Mokka took third place, with Mini holding second in an ongoing renaissance for the ageing Mini hatch. Meanwhile, Tesla’s new Model Y crossover pipped its saloon sister, the Model 3, for fourth place.

In addition to the two Teslas, six other cars in the top ten are also available as electric models, while two are available as plug-in hybrids and only one (the Ford Puma) is not available with any form of plug-in power. If you’re wondering why that sounds like more than ten cars, it’s because the Kia Niro is available with both plug-in and fully electric power options.

Source: SMMT

The all-important March results are due to be published on Wednesday 6 April.

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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.