UK car industry suffers worst June in 26 years

Buyers have been forced to wait up to a year for delivery of new vehicles

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A global shortage of materials which has caused unprecedented delays in producing new cars led the UK automotive industry to suffer its worst June for new car sales since 1996.

Registrations of new cars fell by about 24 per cent last month compared with June 2021, according to preliminary figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Global shortages of components such as semiconductors continue to hamper manufacturers’ ability to fulfil demand, the trade body said.

Drivers are having to wait more than 12 months to take delivery of some models. “The longest lead times are now on the cheapest cars,” Steve Young, managing director of the International Car Distribution Programme, previously told The National.

Only about 800,000 new cars were sold during the first half of the year. That was a 12 per cent reduction compared with the same period in 2021, and represents the industry’s second weakest January-June performance since 1992.

Last week, the industry warned it was at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of Europe due to sharply rising energy costs.

Jim Holder, editorial director of magazine and website What Car?, said car buyers are being hit by a combination of issues.

New car orders are delayed, while rising energy bills are pushing up manufacturing costs, which is increasing prices.

“The result is longer waiting times on cars which will cost more to buy,” he said.

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Separate figures from green motoring consultancy New AutoMotive show 16 per cent of new cars registered in June were pure electric, up from 11 per cent in the same month last year.

The company’s co-founder Ben Nelmes said electric cars “defied gravity” last month, by “continuing to grow while overall new car registrations were down by a quarter”.

Rising petrol and diesel prices are “driving consumers towards electric cars” but the supply of vehicles “cannot keep pace with demand”, he warned.

“We hear that delivery times for electric cars are now between 40 weeks and a year.

“The supply of electric vehicles is the biggest barrier to cleaner road transport in the UK.”

The government is planning to adopt a zero emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which will require manufacturers to sell a certain percentage of those cars and vans from 2024.

Mr Nelmes urged ministers to ensure the level is “stronger” than the proposed 22 per cent, to “attract more electric vehicles to the UK”.

The UK has pledged to reach net zero for carbon emissions by 2050.

To help achieve this, sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned from 2030.

The SMMT will publish final figures for June registrations at 9am on Tuesday.

Updated: July 05, 2022, 7:50 AM
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