UK new car registration in March sees first annual growth in over 7 months

2021-04-06 15:06:54 GMT2021-04-06 23:06:54(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

LONDON, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Britain's new car market recorded its first growth since August 2020, with 29,280 more units registered during March compared to the same month last year, the British Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said Tuesday.

In March, 283,964 new cars were registered, rising by 11.5 percent from the same month one year ago. However, the increase is still far below the 10-year March average level of 450,189 units, said the SMMT.

While overall registrations were slightly up compared to that of last year, growth came almost entirely from fleets, which saw a 28.7 percent increase in registrations, said the SMMT.

Retail consumer demand remained depressed, falling by 4.1 percent compared to March 2020 as showrooms remained closed for the duration of the month, said the SMMT.

"The past year has been the toughest in modern history and the automotive sector has, like many others, been hit hard" amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday confirmed that from April 12, non-essential shops will reopen and pubs and restaurants will reopen outdoors as Britain moves to step two of the roadmap out of the COVID-19 lockdown.

"With showrooms opening in less than a week, there is optimism that consumer confidence -- and hence the market -- will return," said Hawes.

Hawes said he believes the sector is expected to "see record breaking growth next month given April 2020 was a washout, but a strong, sustainable market is possible if customers respond to the choice and competitive offers the industry provides within the safest of showroom environments."

Meanwhile, the shift to new technologies is continuing, with plug-in vehicle demand reaching its highest ever volume. Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) took a combined market share of 13.9 percent, up from 7.3 percent last year, said the SMMT.

Registrations of BEVs increased by 88.2 percent to 22,003 units, while PHEVs rose by 152.2 percent to 17,330. Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) also rose 42.0 percent to reach 21,599 registrations, said the SMMT.

"New plug-in models are already helping drive a recovery but to convince more retail consumers to make the switch, they must be assured these new technologies will be convenient for their driving needs and that means, above all, that the charging infrastructure is there where they need it, and when they need it," added Hawes.

On Feb. 22, Johnson announced his roadmap exiting the lockdown, the third of its kind since the start of the pandemic in the country. The four-step plan is expected to see all legal restrictions in England being removed by mid-June.

The prime minister said England has managed to meet the "tests" set by the government sufficiently to go ahead with further easing restrictions on Monday.

Experts have warned that despite progress in vaccine rollout, Britain is "still not out of the woods" amid concerns over new variants and the third wave of pandemic on the European continent.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Russia, the United States as well as the European Union have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines. Enditem