New car sales rose by 674.1% in May according to the latest SMMT figures. These figures compared with the same month last year when showrooms were closed due to the lockdown.

Battery electric vehicles rose 441.3% and plug-in hybrids grew by 1,091.7% with 13,120 and 9,855 units registered respectively.

In the first five months of the year, a total of 723,845 new cars have been registered. Registrations of petrol and diesel vehicles rose by 579.7% and 348.8% respectively in May. Despite the significant growth seen in May, new car sales remained down by -14.7% from May 2019’s, pre-pandemic levels.

Overall, sales of new electric vehicles performed well and it is encouraging to see that plug-in vehicles now account for 13.8% of all new car sales up from 7.2% a year earlier, with the most rapid growth seen in plug-in hybrid (PHEV) derivatives..

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) market share declined from 12.0% a year ago to 8.4% in the past month, “although the May 2020 performance was distorted by lockdowns when new cars could only be purchased through click and collect or delivery, giving rise to variable purchasing patterns”, SMMT highlighted.

The overall increase in new car sales in May reflected continued consumer demand in the UK.

“Going forward, the outlook for the industry remains positive, consumer confidence is rising and with the economy performing better than expected, dealers are optimistic about the months ahead although tightness in supply may affect registrations of new cars over the summer”, said Sue Robinson, NFDA Chief Executive