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SMMT Car regs summary graphic Feb 23

Strong hybrid sales fuel February market

HYBRID electric vehicles (HEVs) recorded the most significant growth in car registrations of all fuel types, up 40.0% in February, the seventh straight month os sales growth according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Zero emission capable vehicles continued their upward trend, with plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) rising 1.0% and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) posting another strong month, up 18.2% to account for one in six new UK car registrations.

Registrations grew by 26.2% to 74,441 new cars in February, a typically low volume ahead of the March plate change.

Combined, plug-ins accounted for almost a quarter (22.8%) of all deliveries in the month, with further growth anticipated. Indeed, nearly half a million (488,000) PHEVs and BEVs are expected to join Britain’s roads in 2023, as manufacturers bring more than 40 new plug-in electric models to the market.

This will inevitably increase demand for charging infrastructure, however, and while the new £56 million LEVI capability funding is welcome, there remains a clear requirement for binding targets that ensure chargepoint rollout keeps pace.

As the new UK car market looks towards a year of double-digit growth, the Spring Budget is an important opportunity to shape Britain’s net zero progress and deliver an equitable transition for all. This should include a long-term plan for chargepoint investment, aligning VAT on public charging with domestic energy use, and reviewing the Vehicle Excise Duty premium that will unfairly penalise EV buyers switching to this inevitably more expensive technology in the future.

Nick Williams, Transport Managing Director, Lloyds Banking Group said: “February has seen another promising month for EV uptake, with 12,310 new vehicles registered.

“However, if our charging infrastructure is to adequately service the growing number of EVs, it will need significant expansion, both in terms of the volume and the distribution of chargepoints across the country. With the new Chancellor due to deliver his Spring Statement this month, drivers will be looking to the Treasury to confirm investment that will support the UK’s charging network.

“Similarly, individuals and businesses will be hoping to see continued incentives for choosing a zero emissions vehicle over a higher carbon alternative, with policies put in place that take a fair, emissions-based approach. By supporting the UK’s infrastructure, industry and drivers, the Chancellor can help maintain the momentum the country is rapidly building on its electrification journey.”

Kim Royds, EV Director at British Gas, added: “It’s encouraging to see the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the UK’s roads continuing to grow for a seventh consecutive month, but increased demand for newer models is highlighting gaps in the capacity of the charging network. 

 In order to continue with effective electrification, the UK must address the charging challenges households are facing that are preventing them from making the switch to electric.  

 “All eyes will be on the Chancellor’s Spring Budget this month, where continued investment to expand the UK’s charging network must remain on the table if we’re to truly champion the adoption of EVs.”

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