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Business News

Demand for new 21 plate helped car sales accelerate in March


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The car industry has reported an 11.5% rise for sales of new vehicles in March, driven by demand for the new 21 number plate, after a torrid coronavirus crisis to date.

Figures from the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed almost 284,000 new vehicles were sold last month compared to 255,000 in March 2020: a time when the country was preparing for the first national COVID-19 lockdown.

The growth, however, was 37% below the pre-crisis average and first quarter sales were nearly 60,000 down on the same period last year, the SMMT said.

The industry, which has battled weak sales for years, revealed that greener models continued to show the strongest growth with sales of battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles taking a combined market share of 13.9%, up from 7.3% last year.

Image: Sky News launches the first daily prime time news show dedicated to climate change on Wednesday

The sector has been investing heavily in electric technology as the clock ticks down to a government ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel models in 2030 – part of measures to combat climate change.

It has called for incentives, such as a scrappage scheme, to help lift sales as volumes remain restricted.

Many dealers have been using “click and collect” and delivery services to continue to operate as showrooms remain closed to the public.

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In England, they are due to reopen from 12 April, alongside other so-called non-essential retail outlets.

The SMMT said dealers had lost £22.2bn in turnover since March 2020.

Chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The past year has been the toughest in modern history and the automotive sector has, like many others, been hit hard.

“However, with showrooms opening in less than a week, there is optimism that consumer confidence – and hence the market – will return.

“We know we will see record breaking growth next month given April 2020 was a washout, but a strong and sustainable market is possible if customers are attracted to the choice and competitive offer the industry is able to provide within the safest of showroom environments.

“New plug-in models are already helping drive a recovery but to convince more retail consumers to make the switch, they must be assured these new technologies will be convenient for their driving needs and that means, above all, that the charging infrastructure is there where they need it, and when they need it.”

 Sky News

© Sky News 2021

Written by: Rother Radio News

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