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Updated January 5th, 2024 at 16:15 IST

UK records best annual car sales since pandemic

The recovery was particularly propelled by fleet owners, who capitalised on eased supply chain disruptions to meet pent-up demand.

Business Desk
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UK annual car sales: The United Kingdom's automotive sector marked a strong rebound in 2023, recording its most robust year for new car sales since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The final figures revealed that 1.9 million vehicles were sold last year, marking a 17.9 per cent surge compared to the previous year and reaching the highest level since 2019's 2.3 million registrations.

The recovery was particularly propelled by fleet owners, who capitalised on eased supply chain disruptions to meet pent-up demand. Fleet deliveries surged by 38.7 per cent, accounting for over 1 million of the vehicles sold in 2023. 

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Despite these gains, the private market faced challenges, with a 14 per cent year-on-year decline in December and a marginal 0.1 per cent dip for the entire year.

Increased EV adoption

A notable highlight was the increasing adoption of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). The sales of BEVs in 2023 surpassed the combined figures of the preceding two years, reaching 314,687 units. 

However, they constituted only 16.5 per cent of total registrations, slightly down from 16.6 per cent in the previous year. The SMMT has urged the government to stimulate BEV adoption by halving the Value Added Tax (VAT) on new electric vehicles for a three-year period, estimating that such a move could inject an additional £7.7 billion into the BEV market by 2026.

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Amid a broader push towards sustainability, the UK government has set ambitious targets to phase out petrol, diesel, and hybrid vehicles by 2035. Under the zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) mandate, carmakers are required to ensure that 22 per cent of their sales are electric this year, escalating to 80 per cent by 2030 and reaching 100 per cent by 2035.

(With Reuters inputs)

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Published January 5th, 2024 at 16:15 IST

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