According to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the UK’s new car market recorded the third month of growth in October. Registrations rose by more than a quarter (26.4%) to 134,344 units. Once again, electric vehicle (EV) sales continued to grow.
Battery electric vehicle (BEV) registrations increased by 23.4% to 19,933 while plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) grew by 6.2% to 8,899. BEV uptake grew by less than the overall market for the first time since the pandemic. This means October is the first month to see BEV market share fall year-on-year since May 2021, primarily because of supply challenges.
Despite this dip in October BEV registrations so far this year remain impressive. Up until the end of October 2022, there were 195,547 delivers compared to 141,296 for the same period last year. This represents a 38.4% increase year-on-year.
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 the government’s ambition for 300,000 public chargers by 2030 will be met.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “Next year’s outlook shows recovery is possible and EV growth looks set to continue but, to achieve our shared net zero goals, that growth must accelerate and consumers given every reason to invest.
“This means giving them the economic stability and confidence to make the switch, safe in the knowledge they will be able to charge – and charge affordably – when needed. The models are there, with more still to come; so must the public chargepoints.”
With stretched infrastructure and the cost of living crisis both having the potential to undermine future uptake, the 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 long 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. Thus 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.