The announcement that new car registrations in the UK rose by almost a fifth in March is welcome news for the automotive manufacturing industry. The encouraging figures follow on from last month’s announcement by the SMMT that car production had risen over 13% year-on-year in February.

As a new plate month, car sales in March are considered to be an important predictor of market trends for the remaining year. And, while sales are often higher in March because of the new plate element, the fact that March 2023 marks the eighth consecutive month of market growth is positive news. It is also the highest set of March car registrations since pre-pandemic times with 287,825 new cars being delivered.

The European situation

The UK trend was also echoed in the EU where registrations rose by 28% across member states. With an increase of 18.2%, the UK’s figures were lower than Spain and Italy, but significantly higher than German (6.5%) and France (15.2%). The replication of these rises across the continent suggests that the European automotive industry as a whole is experiencing an upturn following well-publicised supply chain issues. And while problems like the semiconductor shortage remain a stumbling block, the situation is easing and figures suggest that organisations involved in car manufacturing may have weathered the worst of the storm.

Putting the pandemic behind us

In the UK, the figures mean that the first quarter of 2023 is the strongest in the automotive sector since 2019, despite the market being almost 30% down on pre-pandemic levels for Q1 2019. This is important as the automotive industry will certainly play a key part in any national economic recovery.

The Nissan Qashqai and Juke are the most popular models in the year to date, with the Tesla Model Y topping sales charts for March. Although petrol-fuelled vehicles continue to dominate the market (accounting for over 56% of new units), March 2023 was also the biggest month ever for sales of battery electric vehicles (BEV). In addition, the largest surge (over 34%), was in hybrids (HEVs), meaning that electrified vehicles accounted for in excess of one in three registrations.

Sustainability in the supply chain

Interflex MD Jim Griffin comments: “The sustained growth of the car market is encouraging news and matches the rising demand that we are seeing on the factory floor. The steady growth in electric vehicle registrations is also in line with what we would expect to see.  At Interflex we have focused on introducing more sustainability into our manufacturing materials and processes over the last two years, with the introduction of recycled and recyclable materials such as Ocean into our product range. “

Ocean is made from a minimum of 75% recycled polyester and can be recycled at the end of its lifespan. Lightweight and mouldable, it can help reduce shape complexity which cuts tooling costs and enables better utilisation of materials. Ocean is also heat sealable, as well as water and oil resistant and is already improving levels of recyclability at the end of a vehicle’s life.

While much of the automotive sustainability drive has focused on electric vehicles, it is equally important to pay attention to issues around weight and materials. In fact, experts estimate that by 2040 around 60% of automotive-industry emissions will come from the materials that are used in production. So, materials such as Ocean will be key in the push to address sustainability across all areas of automotive manufacturing.

Find out more about Interflex

Interflex supply sustainable noise, vibration and harshness solutions for the automotive manufacturing industry and other manufacturing sectors. We offer a range of technical and manufacturing services. Call us on 01949 861 494 or email us at to find out more.