UK new car sales edge up in November, but chip shortages weigh

British new car registrations last month were 1.7% higher than a year earlier but almost a third below their average pre-pandemic level due to ongoing computer chip shortages, industry data showed on Monday.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said 115,706 new cars were registered in November, up from 113,781 in October but 31% below their average in the five years running up to the pandemic.

Some 1.54 million new cars have been registered so far this year, compared with 1.50 million in the same period of 2020.

“What looks like a positive performance belies the underlying weakness of the market. Demand is there, with a slew of new, increasingly electrified, models launched but the global shortage of semiconductors continues to bedevil production,” said Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive.

Chip shortages were likely to continue into next year, he added.

Battery-powered electric cars accounted for 19% of the market – twice as much as a year earlier, while plug-in hybrid electric vehicles made up 9%.

The SMMT called on the government to speed up its charging infrastructure rollout, saying there was one charger currently installed for every 52 new plug-in cars.