No valley of death in 2023 as opportunity knocks for UK automotive sector

According to Cox Automotive Europe, the global automotive sector is set to make a tentative recovery in 2023, despite prolonged disruption to new vehicle supply. The company cites the burgeoning transition to EV, new market entrants, and the agency model's evolution as key factors affecting automotive retail over the next 12 months. 


The sector enters 2023 from yet another challenging year in which performance remained below pre-pandemic levels. Despite this, the UK outperformed many of its European neighbours, achieving 1,614,063 vehicle registrations according to official figures from SMMT, within 0.7% of Cox Automotive’s best case scenario forecast for the year. However, the performance of the UK automotive market must also be viewed in context. While other European nations grappled with similar headwinds facing the UK market, only Germany registered a year-on-year recovery for new and used sales, with a 3% increase in the new market YoY and 25.2% compared with 2019.   

  • Industry enters new era, with production to remain short of pre-pandemic levels  
  • Transition to EV gathers momentum amid ongoing headwinds 
  • OEMs predicted to embrace shift to agency model 

Philip Nothard, Insight and Strategy Director at Cox Automotive, comments: “It has been debated whether our industry has arrived at a Valley of Death regarding manufacturing. It would be correct that overall sales (and therefore production) have dropped off a cliff compared to pre-pandemic levels, but we should not be so pessimistic. Instead, we should look at the opportunities presented to us within the automotive industry and the forced development resulting from COVID-19. 


“We are in a situation where it is no longer viable to attempt to maintain the success of the pre-pandemic automotive industry. But, as well as uncertainty, plenty of opportunities come afoot with this. We need to have a glass-half-full mentality. We’re in a valley of opportunity, and 2023 could be a critical year for reaching new horizons.” 

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