UK’s new car sales up 9.5% in November as fleets snap up latest vehicles – SMMT

(Reuters) -New car sales in Britain grew 9.5% year-on-year in November, inching closer to pre-pandemic levels for the month, as fleets invested in latest vehicles, an industry body said on Tuesday.

Final data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed 156,525 units were sold last month, down by just 96 units from November 2019.

“Britain’s new car market continues to recover, fuelled by fleets investing in the latest and greenest new vehicles,” SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said in a statement.

Of the 24,359 new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) reaching the road in November, 77.4% were taken on by fleets and businesses, according to the industry body. Still, BEV sales volumes were down 17.1% for the month, after bumper sales in same period last year.

“Private EV buyers need incentives in line with those that have so successfully driven business uptake – and workable trade rules that promote rather than penalise the transition,” Hawes added.

Private demand dropped 5.9% to 60,506 registrations in November, SMMT said.

The body has called for a value added tax (VAT) cut on public EV charging and halving VAT on new BEVs to make it attractive for private buyers.

“More clarity on residual values and better second hand car market for EVs will also help boost demand for new cars,” Jamie Hamilton, automotive partner and head of electric vehicles at Deloitte, said.

Ford’s Puma and Vauxhall Corsa were the most popular cars among Britons for the month, SMMT data showed.

(Reporting by Shanima A and Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Mrigank Dhaniwala)