UK new car sales fell by nearly a quarter last month, the worst June since 1996, as global chip shortages hit the industry, industry figures show.

Global shortages of components such as semiconductors continue to hamper manufacturers’ ability to meet demand, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

New car registrations were down 24% last month from June 2021, according to preliminary figures from the trade body.

Drivers wait over 12 months to take delivery of some models. Only around 800,000 new cars were sold in the first half of the year, down 12% from the same period in 2021, and the second weakest performance in the first half since 1992.

Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car? magazine and website, said car buyers were being hit with a number of issues. New car orders were delayed, while rising energy bills drove up manufacturing costs, raising prices for consumers. “The result is longer wait times for cars that will cost more to buy,” he said.

In a sign that the situation could be improving, UK car production in May rose for the first time since June 2021, up 13.3%, with 62,284 units leaving the factory gates, SMMT figures showed separate last week.

Separate figures from green car consultancy New AutoMotive show that 16% of new cars registered in June were purely electric, down from 11% in the same month last year.

Company co-founder Ben Nelmes said electric cars “defied gravity” last month by “continuing to grow as overall new car registrations fell by a quarter”.

Rising gasoline and diesel prices are pushing consumers towards electric cars, but the supply of vehicles cannot keep pace with demand, he said.

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“We hear that delivery times for electric cars are now between 40 weeks and a year,” he added. “The supply of electric vehicles is the biggest barrier to cleaner road transport in the UK.”

The government plans to adopt a zero-emission vehicle mandate, which will require manufacturers to sell a certain percentage of these cars and vans from 2024. Nelmes urged ministers to ensure the level is higher than the 22% offered.

The government has pledged to reach net zero for carbon emissions by 2050. To achieve this, sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned from 2030.


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