Did you read our August report about the used car market? If you did, you'll be aware that it's booming: the used market grew over 108% in the second quarter of 2021, with 2.1 million cars changing hands. Fantastic for us, because, well, used cars are what we're all about.
But that model requires a flow of new cars into the mix and, sadly, the tap's been turned down somewhat. Today's figures from the SMMT tell a sorry tale when it comes to the fresh metal of the equation. September's plate change should make it the second busiest month of the year and a cause for celebration, but the industry report shows that the UK's new car market has recorded its weakest September since 1998. 215,312 cars were registered last month, which represents a 34.4 per cent fall on September 2020, and that was when pandemic restrictions were already significantly curtailing economic activity.
In fact, if you look at last September's registrations, they were actually 44.7 per cent down on the ten-year average, which shows where new car sales could've been without the carnage caused by the double whammy of a global pandemic and a semi-conductor drought.
There's more to it than that of course; as always, the devil is in the detail. Diesel cars, unsurprisingly, were the biggest losers, dropping 77.3 per cent compared with September 2020, and petrol models ended with a 46.6 per cent slump. Interestingly, conventional hybrids (HEV) we also down, but by 5.1 per cent only. The vehicles that propped the market up are, unsurprisingly, full EVs, which boomed by 49.4 per cent and plug-in hybrid EVs, which climbed 11.5 per cent. The SMMT reckons 32,721 battery-electric vehicles were shifted last month - a 15.2 per cent market share.
But before every PHer around the country skulks off into a corner and for a cry, there is some respite amid the gloom: 1,316,614 new cars have found homes in the year to date, which isn't roof-top-shout worthy but it is a 5.9 per cent increase over a moribund 2020. Moreover, if you have a PHer with something interesting to sell, the timing could hardly be better.
What was the UK's most popular car last September? Well, that was the Tesla Model 3 again, with most of the top ten populated by mundane models like the Vauxhall Corsa, Toyota Yaris and the new Nissan Qashqai. There is still at least one bastion of good taste in there to keep us smiling: the BMW 3 Series ended up on the podium with a respectable third place. All is not lost, it seems.
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