Figures released today (5 June) by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that hybrid car sales increased by 90 per cent year on year in May to almost 3,000. Overall, car sales were up 7.7 per cent to 194,000, the biggest May increase for more than a decade and marking 27 consecutive months of growth.
A SMMT spokesperson tells Marketing Week that hybrid car registrations are up 50 per cent so far in 2014, which he says indicates a clear increase in consumer demand helped by the growing number of models available. Government and the car industry are also pushing hybrids with their Go Ultra Low campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the benefits of driving ultra-low emission vehicles, with the effects of that beginning to boost demands.
Toyota recently revealed plans to up its media spend on hybrid models to 50 per cent of its total, up from 30 per cent previously, and launched a ‘Fall in Love with Driving Again’ campaign towards the end of April aimed at highlighting the positive emotions drivers fell when testing hybrid vehicles. Speaking to Marketing Week recently, Ford’s manager of consumer communications in Europe Usha Raghavachari said marketing of hybrid cars has now switched from an education message to one focused on driving pleasure, cost-effectiveness and aspiration, helping to boost sales.
“We used to have to do an education job, explaining what a hybrid was and how it was different. With the proliferation of types and models, car marques can now focus on what people want and show that they don’t have to give up on the other metrics – driving pleasure or looks – to own a hybrid,” she said.
Total car sales have already passed the 1 million mark for the year, according to the SMMT, up 11.6 per cent year on year and reflecting “the UK’s ever-improving economic conditions”. SMMT forecasts that sales will increase by 6 per cent this year as consumers are attracted by “innovative technologies, improved fuel economy and competitive deals”, with growth likely to level off over the coming months.