UK’s new car sales drop 24%

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Heavy traffic seen on the M3 motorway near Southampton, Britain. Reuters

British new car registrations fell 24 per cent last month, marking the weakest June in 26 years, as the sector struggled with persistent supply shortage of components and China’s COVID-19 restrictions, industry data showed on Tuesday.

New car registrations in Britain fell to 140,958 units, according to final figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Lockdowns in China aggravated the shortage of essential auto components, hampering the industry’s ability to fulfil demand. Globally, the automobile industry has been one of the hardest hit by supply-chain snags.

“The semiconductor shortage is stifling the new car market even more than last year’s lockdown,” SMMT Chief Executive Officer Mike Hawes said.

China’s economy is now showing signs of slow recovery from the supply shocks, although headwinds to growth persist.

UK’s battery electric vehicles (BEVs) sector continued their growth streak with a 14.6% increase in volume, although plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) uptake fell by 4,425 units.

The slowdown in plug-ins was more than anticipated, leaving the market behind the industry’s outlook, the SMMT said.

“Part of this fall is attributable to the continuing supply chain shortages that are hampering production of all models, but the scrappage of the plug-in car grant means the UK is now the only major European market without purchase incentives for private EV buyers,” the industry body added.

Plug-ins account for a record one in five new car registrations year-to-date, demonstrating manufacturers’ commitments to deliver the latest zero-emission-capable vehicles, according to SMMT.

The SMMT said year-to-date new car registrations in the UK fell by around 12 per cent to about 802,000 units, delivering the second weakest first half of a year since 1992.

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