Electric vehicle (EV) sales hit record high in UK with 18.6% growth

According to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), UK new car registrations in March bounced back by 18.2 per cent. In turn, this delivered the best ‘new plate month’ performance since before the pandemic. Battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales remained strong accounting for a 16.2 per cent share of the car market.

Registrations rose across all sales types, with deliveries to private buyers up by 1.4 per cent and those to businesses with fleets of fewer than 25 vehicles up 26 per cent. Large fleets, however, were the predominant drivers of March’s growth, with registrations rising by 40,651 units, a 40.9 per cent increase to take an overall 48.6 per cent market share.

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Battery electric vehicle (BEV) deliveries reached a record monthly high of 46,626 compared to 39,315 in 2022. This represents a growth of 18.6 per cent year-on-year. These zero emission vehicles accounted for 16.2 per cent of the UK’s car market in March 2023. 

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) registrations grew by 11.8 per cent, with hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) seeing a 34.3 per cent rise. The latter surge helped overall electrified vehicles account for more than one in three registrations (34.4%) for the month.

A big point to note is that the Tesla Model Y was the best-selling car in the UK during March beating all internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to take the top spot. 

With last week’s publication of the consultation on a Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate, which is ­due to come into force in less than nine months, the market will have to move more rapidly to battery electric and other zero tailpipe emission cars and vans. 

Models are coming to market in greater numbers, but consumers will only make the switch if they have the confidence they can charge whenever and wherever they need. The success of the mandate, therefore, will be dependent not just on product availability but on infrastructure providers investing in the public charging network across the UK.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive: said, “March’s new plate month usually sets the tone for the year so this performance will give the industry and consumers greater confidence. With eight consecutive months of growth, the automotive industry is recovering, bucking wider trends and supporting economic growth. 

“The best month ever for zero emission vehicles is reflective of increased consumer choice and improved availability but if EV market ambitions – and regulation – are to be met, infrastructure investment must catch up.”

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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