ZERO emission capable car deliveries continued to grow in volume as the new car market recorded a third month of growth in October, with registrations rising by more than a quarter (26.4%) to 134,344 units, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
Battery electric vehicle (BEV) registrations increased by 23.4% to 19,933 and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) by 6.2% to 8,899. However, BEV uptake grew by less than the overall market for the first time since the pandemic, meaning October is the first month to see BEV market share fall year on year since May 2021, primarily attributable to supply challenges.
Deliveries of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), meanwhile, rocketed 81.7% to account for more than one in 10 new cars, as supply was prioritised for a raft of popular new models. Overall, electrified vehicles accounted for one in three registrations, while more than a fifth (21.5%) came with a plug.
Ongoing supply chain shortages, surging inflation and a growing cost of living crisis have led to a 2.2% downward revision of the market outlook for the year, with 1.566 million registrations now anticipated. This puts 2022 on course to be the market’s toughest year since 1982.
More positively, demand for electric vehicles is anticipated to result in a plug-in market share of 21.9%. Overall market recovery is anticipated to continue through 2023, with an outlook of 1.808 million units and plug-ins accounting for 26.7% of registrations next year.
Such growth underlines the importance of increasing public chargepoint provision. At the start of October 2022 the UK had 34,637 public standard, rapid and ultra-rapid electric vehicle charging devices, with 1,239 new rapid chargers and 5,023 new standard chargers installed during the first nine months of the year.
With 249,575 new plug-in registrations during the same period, just one new standard public charger has been installed for every 50 new plug-in EV registrations. At this rate, it is unlikely that government’s ambition for 300,000 public chargers by 2030 will be met.4
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “With stretched infrastructure and the cost of living crisis both having the potential to undermine future uptake, government’s Autumn Statement, set for 17 November, provides an opportunity to stimulate demand and deliver both economic growth and net zero progress. Further measures to mitigate energy costs in the longer term for consumers and businesses would give greater confidence.
“Now is not the time to raise motorists’ costs, which would likely stoke inflation and damage broader government revenues from new car sales. A long-term fiscal commitment to zero emission motoring would do much to stimulate investment and demand. EV drivers’ top complaints are, invariably, cost and charging anxiety so reducing VAT on public charging to bring it into line with home charging would level the playing field for drivers unable to install a home chargepoint.”
During challenging operating conditions, battery electric van (BEV) deliveries continued to increase, rising 52.5% year-on-year in October to represent 7.6% of the market – up from 4.1% in the same month last year.
Hawes said: “The UK’s van market continues to be shackled by supply shortages amid difficult operating conditions, which will likely continue into 2023, easing over the course of the year. Demand for zero emission vans remains robust despite these challenges, but a successful net zero transition will require measures targeted at long-term operator confidence.”
Meryem Brassington, Electrification Propositions lead at Lex Autolease said: “2022 is set to represent another record year for EV uptake, with vehicle registrations well on track to surpass the 190,000 registered last year alone. The figures demonstrate real sustained progress along the UK’s electrification journey and paint a promising picture for achieving net zero.
“However, supply chain issues and economic uncertainty continue to present challenges for the market. To ensure that the momentum we have built doesn’t stall, fleet managers must be given the confidence they need to make the switch to electric. All eyes will be on the Chancellor’s autumn statement this month in the hope that he will provide a long-awaited update on company car tax tables beyond 2025 to give businesses the cost clarity to make long-term decisions.”
John Wilmot, Chief Executive at car leasing comparison website LeaseLoco, added: “The stark reality is, that as the UK transitions to electric vehicles, the charging infrastructure rollout is woefully behind where it needs to be on the path to net zero.
“The latest local authority data on public EV charger infrastructure shows that 61% of local authorities – 228 of 375 – are failing to rollout public electric car chargers fast enough to meet the government’s 300,000 target.
“More than a quarter (26%) of local authorities expanded their public charger network by less than 10% over the past 12 months, according to our research.
“The government has a colossal task on its hands if it hopes to hit the target by 2030, and create a charging infrastructure able to cope with the growth in EV ownership over the next decade.
“Although home charging will have a pivotal role to play, there will still be a huge reliance on the public charging network. And the ramifications on local economies of a substandard charging infrastructure could be severe.
“Also, the public isn’t stupid. They won’t be convinced to early switch to electric if they don’t believe the charging infrastructure can cope with demand. And the government will have scored a huge own goal by declaring such an ambitious target and then coming up woefully short of it.”