Consumer car market stalling amid cost of living crunch

2023 year, Living cost, groceries and food price rising up, saving. Shopping cart piggy bank and red arrow up.

Private car sales in the UK continue to flounder amid the cost of living crisis and mixed signals about electric cars says The Car Expert.

The car sales data for October, released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), shows that the total UK market grew by 14% compared to the same period last year.

The growth, largely driven by a fleet sector that continues to recover from its troubles during the pandemic, is not mirrored when it comes to private sales, which were completely flat at just 0.3% up over last October.

Analysis by the UK’s most comprehensive automotive consumer advice site also indicates that consumer appetite for EVs may have been dented by the recent swirl of misinformation, assisted by a government which is hoping to capitalise electorally from a more negative stance towards EVs.

Stuart Masson, Editorial Director at The Car Expert, said: “There’s clearly a lack of consumer confidence which is holding back private car sales. Cost of living constraints are always going to limit sales to some degree; we need inflation under control and for interest rates to come down, but we also require clear and consistent messaging about our EV future – this is where the government needs to shape up and understand the path we are on.

“Also, we need our charging infrastructure to develop more quickly. If investors see that the UK is lagging behind in terms of EV sales, they will take their money elsewhere, financing charge point projects in other countries where demand is stronger.

“Charging infrastructure needs to be abundant. In our homes and places of work there are always plenty of plug sockets for our various devices, we don’t even think about it. That is where we need to be – we need an abundance of EV charge points up and down the country.”

In just two months’ time, 22% of all new cars sold by car manufacturers must be zero emission. Currently, EV sales are around 16% of the market year-to-date – a figure which has not grown at all during 2023, and is currently on track for a worse result than in 2022.


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