Despite the well-documented supply constraints, new car sales rose 27.5% in January compared to last year’s market which was impacted by lockdown measures.

A total of 115,087 new cars were registered in January according to the latest SMMT figures, 27.5% more than the same time last year when the market was impacted by the pandemic and showrooms had to remain shut.

Overall registrations were driven by demand from private buyers, up by 64.1% from last year, whilst fleet remained stable.

Sales of electrified vehicles performed well, in particular, Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) were up 130.6%, Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) rose 47.3%.

“[...] Positively, 85% of franchised dealers are optimistic about levels of consumer demand in the year ahead”, said Sue Robinson, NFDA Chief Executive.

An NFDA poll of franchised dealers conducted this week indicated that the majority of them are 'optimistic' about the levels of consumer demand in 2022*. NFDA's figures indicate also that dealers are generally more optimistic now than they were in December.

The poll was conducted by NFDA between Wednesday 2 and Thursday 3 February 2022; 42 chief executives representing a mix of small and large franchised dealer groups responded.

When asked “How optimistic are you with the level of consumer demand in 2022?” 51.2% responded ‘slightly optimistic’ and 34.1% said ‘very optimistic’.

Another question asked: “Throughout January 2022, was the volume of online enquiries at your dealership up or down from January 2021?” and 56.1% said online enquiries were up, 29.3% down and 14% constant.

In response to “How did your level of optimism in consumer demand for January 2022 compare to December 2021?”, dealers said: more optimistic (51.22%), less optimistic (24.39%); the same (24.39%).

Sue Robinson added: “It is encouraging to see that demand from private consumers drove the market in January, with extremely strong performances in the EV segments. At the same time, as customers come to terms with new vehicles' lead times, also the used car market remains robust.

“To ensure sustained growth in the electric vehicle market as more models become available, NFDA encourages consumers to visit an Electric Vehicle Approved dealer where experts can help overcome any uncertainties around switching to EV.

“Last year, as showrooms were closed, retailers relied on online sales and click & collect; however, the majority of franchised dealers reported that the volume of online enquiries in January was stable or, in most cases, up from the same period in 2021, showing that consumer appetite is buoyant.

“Going forward, there is confidence that demand will pick up further as supply improves”.