Currently reading: Electrified models stabilise UK new car market as private sales dip
Hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric cars played starring roles as petrol car sales fell by 3.1% in April

Growth in the sales of hybrid, plug-in-hybrid and electric cars in April had the UK’s new car market continue its upward trend, despite a slump in uptake from private buyers.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), a total of 134,274 new cars were delivered during the month, a 1.0% increase compared with April 2023.

This marked the sector's 21st consecutive month of growth following the Covid pandemic.

Fleets represented the majority of new car buyers last month, accounting for 81,207 sales – 60.5% of the total and an 18.5% increase compared with April 2023.

Meanwhile, deliveries to private customers fell by 17.7%, to 50,458.

The SMMT didn't attribute the slump to any particular factor, but a recent report by industry analyst Cox Automotive suggested that the rising cost of living and high interest rates are to blame.

Petrol cars remained the dominant market force in April, taking 74,877 sales. This was, however, down 3.1% on the 77,275 recorded in April 2023. 

Meanwhile, sales of hybrids, PHEVs and EVs all rose.

EVs were the next most popular choice, with 22,717 sales, up 10.7% year on year. They were followed by hybrids, at 17,538 (up 16.7%), and then PHEVs, at 10,493 (up 22.1%).

The growth in sales of all three electrified powertrain options – which are incentivised by the UK’s carbon emissions-based company car taxes – mirrors that of the overall fleet market.

Meanwhile, uptake of diesel cars fell by 25.3% to 8649 units, reflecting both the reduced choice of models available and the greater fiscal advantages provided by hybrids and EVs to fleets.

The best-selling car in the UK last month was the Ford Puma, with 4339 registrations, followed by the Volkswagen Polo (3413) and the Audi A3 (3010).

Charlie Martin

Charlie Martin Autocar
Title: Editorial Assistant, Autocar

As a reporter, Charlie plays a key role in setting the news agenda for the automotive industry. He joined Autocar in July 2022 after a nine-month stint as an apprentice with sister publication, What Car?. He's previously contributed to The Intercooler, and placed second in Hagerty’s 2019 Young Writer competition with a feature on the MG Metro 6R4

He is the proud owner of a Fiat Panda 100HP, and hopes to one day add a lightweight sports car like an Alpine A110 or a Lotus Elise S1 to his collection.

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