UK new car sales top 1 million in H1 despite commercial-private divide, data shows

(Reuters) -New car sales in Britain touched the “million motors” mark in the first six months for the first time since 2019 as strong commercial demand continued to outweigh weak retail purchases, data from an industry body showed on Thursday.

New car registrations rose a modest 1.1% year-over-year to 179,263 units in June, taking the January-June total to 1,006,763, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

While that implies a 6% growth rate over the first six months of 2024, the monthly rate has slowed to under 2% since topping 10% in March.

Once again fleets and businesses fuelled the growth last month, after two tough years of constrained supply.

Private retail demand, on the other hand, declined for the ninth consecutive month amid a cost-of-living crisis.

“The private consumer market continues to shrink against a difficult economic backdrop, but with the right policies in place, the next government can re-energise the market and deliver a faster, fairer zero emission transition,” SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said.

Polling for UK parliamentary elections is underway and opinion polls have showed the Labour Party winning.

The demand for electric vehicles (EVs) “continued to grow robustly” in June, with the 27.2% increase in hybrid EV sales only out-paced by a 30% jump in plug-in hybrid cars.

However, battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales rose 7.4%, largely in line with year-ago levels due to subdued demand.

The SMMT has called on the government for incentives, including temporarily halving value-added tax on BEVs, to boost investment in the sector.

(Reporting by Anandita Mehrotra and Prerna Bedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Mohammed Safi Shamsi and Savio D’Souza)


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