SMMT reports new car registrations fall 39.5%

  • SMMT reports new car registrations fall 39.5% with only 90,249 new cars registered in January 2021, the worst start to a year since 1970.
  • New emissions figures show that 2020 delivered the cleanest vehicles in history as average CO2 emissions fell by 11.8% on previous year. However there is much more to do to deliver net zero emissions.
SMMT jan sales

Petrol and Diesel decline

With car showrooms closed due to the covid lockdown new car sales are significantly disrupted and down 40% YOY.

Diesel sales suffered the highest fall of 62% down YOY. Petrol car sales also suffered, falling 50%. Both losing market share within this diminishing market to electric and hybrid vehicles.

Mild hybrids (MHEV) saw a 34% rise YOY with 15,053 sales, higher than diesel (11,083) and now with a market share of 16.7%.

Full electric (BEV) and hybrid electric (PHEV & HEV) vehicles were up 8% YOY with 19,210 vehicles delivered, attaining 21.3% market share.

Full electric sales of 6,260 (4,054) were up 54.4.% and had a market share of 6.9% (2.7%). The rise in market share is very encouraging as more pure electric vehicles enter the market. There are still infrastructure issues that are holding back the growth in full electric. This despite the chancellor laying aside £500m for infrastructure improvements in the last budget.

Although the growth in MHEV is a positive over petrol and diesel cars they are distorting the move into electric vehicles. These ‘mild hybrids’ offer very limited range and are often heavier due to the additional weight of the battery and electric motors. While they may not save as much fuel as conventional hybrids, mild-hybrid systems are claimed to improve efficiency by up to 15 percent. Mild-hybrid systems are also cheaper to manufacture than full hybrids as they’re typically easier to integrate into a current ICE car.


The growth in market share of full electric and hybrids is very positive, however the growth in manufacturer inspired mild hybrids is distorting the picture and will only slow the uptake of pure electric vehicles.

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