Electric vehicle sales overtake diesel cars for second month in a row

More electric vehicles were registered than diesel cars for the second month in a row and only the third time in the past two years according to latest SMMT figures
Gary McDonald Business Editor

NEW car registrations in Northern Ireland are well ahead of where they were this month last year despite completing stalling in July, historically a relatively quiet month in the trade anyway.

Sales fell by more than a quarter (26.15 per cent) said the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) as the industry was hit by the "pingdemic" of people self-isolating and a continuing chip shortage.

Some 3,248 vehicles left showrooms in Northern Ireland in July compared to 4,398 in July 2020.

So far this year 24,096 new cars have been registered, which is up more than 23 per cent on the 2020 figure of 19,561.

UK-wide figures also revealed that more electric vehicles were registered than diesel cars for the second month in a row and only the third time in the past two years as concerns about environmental impacts, as well as ever-evolving patterns of work and social life, have driven many consumers away from traditional fossil-fuelled models.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The automotive sector continues to battle against shortages of semiconductors and staff, which is throttling our ability to translate a strengthening economic outlook into a full recovery.

“The next few weeks will see changes to self-isolation policies which will hopefully help those companies across the industry dealing with staff absences, but the semiconductor shortage is likely to remain an issue until at least the rest of the year.

“As a result, we have downgraded the market outlook slightly for 2021.

“But the bright spot, remains the increasing demand for electrified vehicles as consumers respond in ever greater numbers to these new technologies, driven by increased product choice, fiscal and financial incentives and an enjoyable driving experience.”

Graeme MacLaughlin, relationship director at Barclays Northern Ireland, added: “For many the end of lockdown means a return to some kind of normality, but not for local car dealers, and the vehicle market is now largely out of sync with the typical patterns that define sales across a given year.

“Supply issues for semi-conductors are expected to continue throughout 2021 for a number of brands, so dealers are now faced with questions around both demand from potential buyers and availability of new cars from manufacturers.”

John Wilmot from car leasing comparison website LeaseLoco said: “There is a clear message being sent out by UK consumers that they are keen to go green. The government needs to act on this information and ensure people are incentivised and motivated to buy electric and hybrid cars.”

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