October 2023 saw the UK new car market grow by 14.3%. That's 7.2% higher than pre-Covid pandemic figures, the biggest October increase since 2018 and the 15th consecutive month of growth.
With October 2023 also being the warmest on record, a great deal of attention remains focused on the issues of automotive emissions, pollution and climate change, so it is encouraging to note that registrations of new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) increased for the 42nd consecutive month, growing by 20.1%. Figures for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) increased by 24.6% and 60.5% respectively.
Across the whole automotive sector (all fuel-types), private sales remained steady, increasing by just 0.3% compared to a 28.8% growth in large fleet sales. Demand from businesses, on the other hand, actually fell by 15.2%.
As with the sector in general, the growth in registrations of new electric and hybrid vehicles was mostly driven by fleet purchases. This suggests that the government really does need to take another look at charging point availability as well as incentives and subsidies that could speed up the transition away from petroleum. Electric vehicles remain more expensive than equivalent petrol and diesel models, and thus beyond the financial means of many drivers who would otherwise be eager to switch.
At a glance
The following tables show automotive market growth for October 2023 and for the whole year to date. Last year's figures are included for comparison.
(Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders)
|2023||2022||Change (%)||2023 market share (%)||2022 market share (%)|
|Year to date|
|Year to date 2023||Year to date 2022||Change (%)||2023 market share||2022 market share|
BEV or "battery electric vehicle" means a fully electric vehicle that is recharged by plugging into a recharging point.
HEV or "hybrid electric vehicle". This is a hybrid vehicle with a battery that is recharged by the action of the engine and braking system. The electric motor is powerful enough to drive the car for limited distances.
MHEV or "mild hybrid electric vehicle". This is a vehicle where the battery doesn't power the engine alone, but assists the internal combustion engine. The battery is charged by the action of the engine and does not plug in to recharge.
PHEV or "plug-in hybrid electric vehicle". The battery on a plug-in hybrid is more powerful than that on an HEV or MHEV. It is sufficient to power the vehicle for about (usually) 60-100km (about 35-60 miles) on electric power alone. The vehicle is recharged by plugging it in.
Good news for number plates fans
Anything that means more cars on the road is good news for number plate dealers and enthusiasts as, obviously, the more cars on the road, the more number plates are needed to identify them. That said, we are acutely aware of the damage done by emissions from petroleum-burning engines so we are glad to see greener technologies gaining market share despite the many obstacles still to be faced on the road to completely zero-emissions driving.