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Gloucestershire Business News

Vantastic! Auto sales rise again

With new stats landing to show a twelfth consecutive month of rising car sales, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is celebrating a return to healthy business as the industry seeks to put the pandemic and supply issues in the rear-view mirror.

July's sales showed 143,921 new cars were registered, which marked the best July innings since 2020, when drivers returned to the forecourts in the wake of repeated lockdowns and distance working conditions.

This month's top-selling car was Ford's Puma, which registered 4,124 new owners and which made the car the number one seller for 2023 so far. With 26,889 registrations, Vauxhall's Corsa stays in second place, although Volkswagen's collective sales make the brand the best seller for July, pipping Ford by 1,816 units.

And Fiat, part of the Stellantis supergroup of brands, got a wake-up call from emerging Chinese brand GWM Ora, which outsold its sporty sister brand Abarth.

While private buyers are no more evident that before (rising by 0.3%), the SMMT says that fleet demand drove the latest figures, with large fleets increasing 61.9% to 80,961 units and business registrations climbing by 28.7% to 2,915 new vehicles.

The SMMT also notes that Q2 electric car registrations per electric charger installation reveal 35 cars being sold per charger - indicating a steady drop since Q4 of 2022 when the installation rate was 62.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, warned: "Consumers must be given every possible incentive to buy. Government must pull every lever, therefore, to make buying, running and, especially, charging an EV affordable and practical for every driver in every part of the country."

The industry remains committed to meeting the UK's zero emission deadlines and continues to make the investments to get us there, he added.

"Choice and innovation in the market are growing, so it's encouraging to see more people switching on to the benefits of driving electric. With inflation, rising costs of living and a zero emission vehicle mandate that will dictate the market coming next year."

Underpinning today's growth, commercial vehicle sales also indicated a 44.2% in July, making this the seventh consecutive month of growth.

In all, 26,990 units were registered, and as a key indicator of the direction of business investment, electric van demand almost doubled, the SMMT says, with a rise of 94.6% in the month.

Overall, the industry body says it expects the LCV market to grow by 16.1% to 328,000 units in 2023 and edge up 0.5% in 2024.

Welcoming the modest 0.6% rise on April, the SMMT adds, however, that deliveries for 2024 have been trimmed by -5.2% to 329,000.

Semiconductor shortages may have eased, but operators continue to face rising energy and operational costs, with little incentivisation. The SMMT also warns that the anticipated battery electric vehicle (BEV) share has also been trimmed slightly from 7.4% to 7.1% for this year, although BEVs are still expected to comprise 11.2% of all registrations in 2024.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: "Following a solid first half, van sales have enjoyed an extremely positive month, beating even pre-pandemic levels. The challenge now is to deliver even greater EV uptake, which requires urgent action to reduce soaring energy costs and increase the provision of dedicated van charging infrastructure to bolster operator confidence and meet the unique needs of this sector. These are vital hurdles to overcome, more so given next year will see a ZEV mandate with minimum sales targets for every brand.

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