New car registrations in April were up 30 times compared with the same month last year, but volumes still remained 12.9% lower than the 10-year average at 141,583 new units, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
In April 2020, when the first national lockdown was in full effect, just 4,321 cars were registered.
Petrol cars accounted for just over half the sales with a market share of 50.3%, but fewer than one in ten new cars sold were diesel with a market share of 9.9%.
Total plug-in vehicle market share broadly followed the trend seen in recent months, accounting for just over one in eight vehicles, or 13.2%. Unusually, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), at 6.8% of the market, were more popular than battery electric vehicles (BEVs) at 6.5%, following cuts to the plug-in car grant. Monthly BEV uptake was down compared with the first quarter 2021 overall, however, as they had been running at 7.5% of total registrations.
BEVs are now expected to account for 8.9% of registrations by year-end – down from the 9.3% initially forecast in January, in light of March’s changes to the plug-in car grant. With PHEVs anticipated to take a 6.3% market share, total plug-in vehicles should comprise 15.2% of all cars registered in 2021.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “After one of the darkest years in automotive history, there is light at the end of the tunnel. A full recovery for the sector is still some way off, but with showrooms open and consumers able to test drive the latest, cleanest models, the industry can begin to rebuild.
“Market confidence is improving, and we now expect to finish the year in a slightly better position than anticipated in February, largely thanks to the more upbeat business and consumer confidence created by the successful vaccine rollout. That confidence should also translate into another record year for electric vehicles, which will likely account for more than one in seven new car registrations.”