“We start 2023 with a positive outlook, new car sales in January have risen by 14.7% and have recorded the sixth consecutive month of growth, “ said Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers in the UK commenting on the latest SMMT’s new passenger car registration figures.

In January, a total of 131,994 new cars were registered, an increase of 14.7% from the same period last year. Sales to private buyers fell by -4.3%; fleet registrations improved by 36.8%.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) performed strongly with an increase of 19.8% to 17,294 units. Plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) registrations rose by a marginal 0.7% to 9,109 units, and hybrids (HEVs) led the market growth with an increase of 40.6% to 18,976 units.

With sales of electric growing, diesel fell from 6,008 units in 2022 to 5,280 units in 2023 (-12.1%), whilst petrol has risen from 51,468 units to 58,973 units (14.6%).

Sue Robinson added: “It is encouraging that sales of new cars have risen in January and we have started the year in a strong position. Electric vehicles experienced significant growth and is driving the industry in the right direction. NFDA is confident that this trend will continue as supply constraints begin to ease and customer lead times start to fall.

“It is important that the transition to zero emissions continues to be supported by investments in the charging infrastructure and financial incentives for EV buyers and this has recently been addressed in NFDA’s Spring Budget 2023 submission.

“Throughout 2023, we are confident retailers will continue to show their resilience and ability to meet buyers’ demand with growing footfall levels in showrooms and an ever-improving online offering from dealers”.