The October sales of new cars fell to their lowest level since 1991. Registrations were down by a quarter in October, primarily due to a lack of semiconductor chips that has been limiting the supply of new motors.

However, experts warn that the industry may face more challenges in the future. They are predicting a decline in consumer confidence as a result of rising interest rates. This could cause people to reconsider large-ticket purchases.

Although overall registrations were down year on year, sales of electrified vehicles held steady. According to the trade organization, it expects that battery-electric car sales will surpass diesels next fiscal year.

New car sales slump in October: Motor registrations dropped by a quarter last month to the lowest level since 1991, official stats have confirmed this morning

October’s slump in new car sales: Official stats confirm that motor registrations fell by a quarter last month, to the lowest level since 1991.

Some 106,265 new cars entered the road last month, which is a 24.6 per cent decline on 2020 figures and the lowest recorded sales for the tenth month for three decades. 

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the slide was caused again by global computer chip shortages. This has reduced production lines around the world and caused significant delays to order delivery. In some cases, it even extended arrival dates by over a full year.

This trend has seen more drivers opt for the used market in recent months. This has caused a surge in value with many people paying more for a secondhand car than they would if it was brand new.  

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said October sales reflected ‘the challenging supply constraints, with the industry battling against semiconductor shortages and increasingly strong economic headwinds as inflation rises, taxes increase and consumer confidence has weakened’.  

KPMG’s UK head of automotive Richard Peberdy also foresaw more difficult months ahead for automotive as consumers face rising living costs.

He said: ‘October is traditionally a quieter month after September’s plate change. 

“But, a gloomy outlook is made worse by fewer cars being produced due to supply chain problems, and the beginnings if shakier consumer confidence with rising interest rates.

Some 106,265 new cars entered the road last month, which is a 24.6 per cent decline on October 2020 and the lowest recorded sales for the tenth month for three decades

Last month, there were 106,265 new vehicles on the road. This is a 24.6 percentage decline from October 2020 and the lowest sales volume for the tenth consecutive month in 30 years.

The SMMT has downgraded its annual forecast by 8.8 percent following a fourth consecutive month with falling sales. It now estimates that only 1.66 million new cars will be on the roads in 2021.

This would see 2021 finish 1.9 per cent – or some 30,000 units – up on 2020, but some 650,000 units down on 2019’s pre-pandemic 2.3 million performance. 

However, the trade body predicts a partial recovery for 2022. The industry anticipates some 1.96million new car registrations next Year. This is largely due to ever-increasing demands for low-emission vehicles. It says pure-electric models will almost certainly overtake diesel sales within the next 12 months.  

In the month leading up to the COP26 climate change summit in Paris, plug-in vehicle adoption was positive. They were heavily promoted as a way for nations to reach carbon-neutral goals.

The SMMT has now downgraded full-year sales expectations to a total of 1.66 million

The SMMT has downgraded full year sales expectations to 1.66million

With BEV sales booming, the SMMT says zero-emission models will sell in greater numbers than diesels in the UK in 2022

The SMMT predicts that zero-emission vehicles will be more popular than diesels in the UK, despite BEV sales exploding.

In October, the market share for battery electric vehicles (BEVs), 16.155 electric cars, was 15.2 percent. Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), were 7.9 percent.

EV sales will surpass diesels by 2022

Rising demand for greener cars means more pure-electric and plug-in hybrid cars will join Britain’s roads in 2021 than during the whole of the last decade, according to SMMT.

Between 2010 and 2019, a total of 271,962 brand-new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug in hybrids (PHEVs) were registered. The trade body now forecasts that businesses and consumers will take up around 287,000 of the latest zero-emission capable cars during 2021 alone – around one in six new cars bought. 

Current forecasts predict that BEV sales will surpass those of diesel by 2022.

This is especially remarkable considering that 2021 is expected be a weak year for new car registrations. These registrations are down around 30% on the average over the past decade mainly due to production restrictions. 

Mr Hawes stated that’massive industry investment’ and long-standing government incentives led to us going from 188 new plug-in vehicles in 2010 to almost 300,000.

He said, “To achieve net 0 by the desired date however, however uptake must continue to grow.” 

“This requires ongoing incentives for consumers to switch and significant investment into public charging infrastructure. 

‘Backed up by the ingenuity of the automotive industry, we can then deliver zero emissions mobility that is accessible to all and affordable for all. 

Plug-in cars now account for 16.6% of all new car sales in 2020. Low emission models, when combined with conventional self-charging hybrids and conventional self-charging hybrids make up a quarter of the market. 

Hawes said: ‘Electrified vehicles continue to buck the trend, with almost one in six new cars registered this year capable of zero-emission motoring, growth that is fundamental to the UK’s ability to hit its net zero targets. 

“Next year is looking brighter, with even more new models expected. The continuation of this transformation will depend on the preservation incentives that overcome the affordability bar and the ability for the public sector and private sectors to increase public street charging to allay concerns of EV driver.

KPMG reports that record petrol and diesel prices have also contributed in the last month to an increase in EV consumption. However, they warned that plug in cars could be subject to higher fuelling’ fees. 

‘The impact that record high fuel prices will have on pushing motorists towards electric vehicle options shouldn’t be understated,’ Richard Peberdy added. 

‘Yet EVs aren’t insulated from the wider energy crisis. Plug-in drivers will need to be careful about their tariffs in order to avoid unexpectedly high bills during a winter storm for energy companies.

With 3,167 registrations, the Polo supermini was the top-selling model in October. It was just ahead the Mini hatchback and all-new Nissan Qashqai, as well as the in-demand Ford Focus.

Tesla’s Model 3 was the best-selling vehicle last month. However, it didn’t make the top 10, which is further evidence of Tesla’s push to deliver electric vehicles in the quarters that end. 

Vauxhall Corsa, the fifth most-bought vehicle in October, has extended its lead at top of sales charts for the entire year. It now has 35,183 registrations, nearly 7,500 more than Ford Fiesta, the nation’s most beloved model for 12 consecutive years. 

The Volkswagen Polo was the best-selling new car in October, marginally beating the Mini hatchback

The Mini hatchback was marginally bettered by the Volkswagen Polo, which was the best-selling car in October.

Tesla's Model 3, which was the best-selling car last month, didn't feature in the top 10 list - which is more evidence of the electric vehicle maker's push for deliveries predominantly in the months at the end of each quarter

Tesla’s Model 3 (the best-selling Tesla car last month) didn’t make it into the top 10. This is further evidence that Tesla’s push for deliveries in the final quarter of each quarter is evident.

The Vauxhall Corsa extended its lead at the top of the 2021 sales charts - it's now 7,500 units ahead of the Ford Fiestas

The Vauxhall Corsa has extended its lead at top of 2021 sales charts, now selling 7,500 more units than the Ford Fiestas


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