“The latest figures for December bring a positive conclusion to what has been a consistent year of growth for the UK automotive sector as motor retailers sold 17.9% more new vehicles in 2023 than in 2022.” 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 December, a total of 141,092 new cars were registered, an increase of 9.8% from the same period last year. Sales to private buyers decreased by -14.0%; fleet registrations were up by 32.9%.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) experienced a significant decrease, down 17.8% to 27,841 units. Plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) registrations increased by 45.4% to 12,162 units, and hybrids (HEVs) followed with growth of 18.5% to 16,287 units. There are now 314,687 registered BEVs on the road in 2023 compared to the 267,204 at the same point last year, a -0.1% decrease.

With sales of electric stalling, diesel grew for December from 4,006 units to 4,891 (22.1%), and petrol has risen from 42,090 units to 54,360 units (29.2%).

Sue Robinson added: “However, whilst December proved to be a strong month for EVs, it is concerning to see that electric cars only accounted for 16.5 per cent of new vehicles sold in 2023, down from 16.6 per cent in 2022.

"The lack of clarity from the Government on EVs, such as the pushing back of the ICE ban from 2030 to 2035 appears to have impacted consumer confidence on electric.

“2024 is set to be an important year for the UK automotive sector particularly with the continued shift towards electric.

“With the ZEV mandate becoming law on Wednesday, electric vehicles look set to gradually increase their market share and gain ground on petrol vehicles which currently hold the largest market share in the UK.

“However, these figures outline that there remains important issues which the Government will need to tackle for the year ahead such as the availability of EV charging infrastructure across the country. The UK also remains the only major market in Europe without incentives for private buyers with France recently introducing measures and Italy also looking set to offer incentives for EVs. It will also be interesting to view the progress of new Chinese manufacturers which will enter the UK market this year.

“With the Spring Budget announced for March and a General Election expected in Autumn, it is a politically and fiscally important time for the sector and the NFDA will continue to to highlight the issues affecting the auto retail sector and ensure positive progress is made to benefit the industry, consumer and environment .”