For the motor industry and motor dealers, March has always traditionally been the highest grossing month of the year. However, this March, even despite COVID-19 restrictions and what seems like never-ending lockdowns, the industry reported a record-breaking month for hybrid and electric car sales. This is due to an increased demand for eco-friendly vehicles.
The area of the UK that is leading the way for a greener way of transport is the North-West, particularly Greater Manchester. Experiencing the fastest growth of hybrid and electric car ownership than anywhere else in the country, it has been reported that the number of these particular vehicles registered in the area more than tripled during 2020 – the year of the lockdown.
Compared to 2020, which saw the sales of hybrid and electric vehicles increase by 7.3%, 2021 has seen sales rise by 13.9%. This proves that there is a shift in priorities, with UK drivers actively looking for alternative transport methods to lower their carbon exhaust emissions. It has since been reported that a total of 22,000 electric cars were sold this year, along with 17,000 plug-in hybrids – models that combine an internal combustion engine with a battery.
But, while the motor industry enjoys a surge in trade, especially the type that helps to preserve our environment, it’s still important to acknowledge the insufferable financial losses incurred due to the pandemic. A staggering £22.2bn was lost, with the motor industry and car dealerships witnessing their lowest level of sales since the second world war aftermath – a drop of 97%.
Car dealerships, both private and commercial, have since introduced new ways of shopping, for example, click and collect, and have found ways to continue to operate throughout the pandemic. With second-hand car sales soaring as well as the increase of battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids sales, 2021 hopes to see the motor industry thrive once again. Mike Hawes, the SMMT chief executive is full of confidence, stating that “there was optimism in the industry that sales would recover after the toughest year in modern history for the automotive sector.”
However, while these greener vehicle purchases continue and should be celebrated, it’s still important to note that there is a long way to go until the UK can declare 100% zero emissions.