LSE: 687.40 GBP -4.40 (-0.64%)
04 March 22 Press releases

Auto Trader's Commercial Director, Ian Plummer, offers his view on the latest new car sales data from the SMMT



These figures paint a picture of a weak new car market - but looks can be deceiving. If you peek under the bonnet, there are all the signs of pent-up demand that could really set the market on fire later this year.

Key spokesperson

Ian Plummer

Commercial Director



“February is always a relatively weak month for sales as drivers hold fire until March for the new 22 plates before buying. But while sales are down on pre-pandemic levels in February 2020, it does mark an improvement on January.

“Moreover, these figures only show the number of buyers picking up the keys. Speak to any manufacturer or motor retailer, and they’ll tell you that the market is red-hot and that their order books are full to bursting for months to come. Last month Auto Trader saw the volume of new car enquiries increase 44% on the same period last month. 

“The car industry’s well-documented issues with semi-conductor shortages have so far acted as a brake on the demand of an army of would-be buyers with Covid savings. But as production ramps up again that dam looks set to burst later this year as new deliveries pick up speed.

“Order books are rammed until at least September, which promises a bumper autumn for the car market and the new 72 plates. In some areas we are seeing demand stretching well into 2023 particularly for commercial vehicles like vans where some brands have stopped taking orders altogether.

“Sales of battery EVs clearly remain a huge source of demand, with sales more than quadrupling compared to two years ago. Sales of plug-in hybrids have doubled as well. It will be interesting to watch how this trend develops in the months ahead.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent shockwaves through global energy markets, pushing oil prices to almost $120 a barrel and pump prices to an all-time high. That is likely to concentrate the minds of many drivers, with our research showing that two out of five motorists are already planning on driving less due to increasing fuel prices.

“During last year’s petrol crisis, we saw a surge in consumer engagement for electric cars, a phenomenon we termed ‘fuel anxiety’. Who’s to say that the invasion of Ukraine won’t have a similar impact."

Up next
Auto Trader data to power Office for National Statistics' official measures of inflation
Read More
Retailers embracing digital are reporting more sales, more efficiency and more satisfied customers
Read More
Auto Trader is first FTSE 100 to achieve Gold Carbon Literacy status
Read More

Stay up to date

Follow us on our social channels to keep up with the latest news, insights and company developments.


If you would like to be added to our News & views mailing list, or have any media-related enquiries, please contact our press team:

Auto Trader UK

Auto Trader Insight

Auto Trader Life

Other Group sites

Looking to join the team?


Looking to buy or sell a vehicle?


Keep in touch

Sign up to our email alerts service:

RNS alerts

Join our news & views mailing list
or submit media-related enquiries:

Contact our press team
  • @2024 Auto Trader Group plc. Registered in England with company number: 09439967.