Fleets drive October’s surge in EV registrations, but overall market share remains steady

  • October’s new car market surged by 14.3%, hitting 153,529 registrations, with EV registrations reaching 37.6%.
  • EV figures revealed hybrid and plug-in hybrid growth, while battery electric vehicles only reached a 15.6% market share.
  • Charging infrastructure saw a boost, but concerns were raised over its uneven distribution, prompting calls for government action and incentives.

New EV registrations climb, however, the market share of battery electric vehicles falls short of expectations

According to the SMMT’s monthly report, October’s new car market roared with a 14.3% growth, hitting 153,529 registrations. Surpassing pre-pandemic levels by 7.2%, it marked the best October since 2018, riding on the 15th consecutive month of growth. 

Large fleet registrations powered this surge, rocketing up by 28.8% to hit 87,479 units. Private demand remained steady at 62,915 vehicles, inching up by 0.3%. Unfortunately, the business sector witnessed a dip of -15.2%, settling at 3,135 units.

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The EV scene stole the spotlight, with electric vehicles claiming a whopping 37.6% of all new car registrations. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) surged by 24.6%, plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) skyrocketed by 60.5%, and battery electric vehicle (BEV) uptake continued its 42-month climb, growing by 20.1% to 23,943 units. 

BEVs, however, only claimed a 15.6% market share, a modest rise from last year’s 14.8%. This is a nudge for fiscal incentives for private consumers, as private registrations represented less than a quarter of new BEVs this year.

Ade Thomas, Founder of Green.TV and the EV SUMMIT, commented:

“Last year saw the BEV market share just above 14%. This year, they are coming in just below 16%, so a rise, but not a dramatic one. 

Whether the Osborne Effect is kicking in, where, once a circa 15% of a consumer cohort decide the new thing is better than the previous thing, kicks in, is happening, I’m not so sure. Cars are a very special kind of purchase, and EVs are not just a new car, they are very different, and part of a whole new energy consumption paradigm. Research needs to be done, here, on whether the Osborne Effect applies to automotive.”

Bear in mind, the UK government’s ZEV mandate requires 22% of all OEM’s sales to be electric next year. With that deadline fast approaching, manufacturers will face heavy penalties if they fall short. So, perhaps incentives are necessary to encourage the sustained growth we need to see. 

Chargepoint infrastructure also witnessed a leap, with a significant increase in rollout during Q3. A record-breaking 4,753 new standard chargepoints came online, translating to one new public chargepoint for every 26 new plug-in cars hitting the roads between July and September. However, concerns surfaced over the disproportionate focus on London and the South East, receiving four out of five new chargepoints, while other regions faced shortages.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said:

“With demand for new cars surpassing pre-pandemic levels in the month, the market is defying expectations and driving growth. As fleet uptake flourishes, particularly for EVs, sustained success depends on encouraging all consumers to invest in the latest zero emission vehicles. The Autumn Statement is a key opportunity for government to introduce incentives and facilitate infrastructure investment. Doing so would send a clear signal of support for drivers, reassuring them that now is the time to switch to electric.”

The overall new car registrations for 2023 are expected to reach 1.886 million, a 2.1% rise from July’s expectations. However, BEV expectations saw a slight downgrade to 324,000 units, resulting in an expected market share of 17.2% at year-end. 

Looking ahead to 2024, the overall market outlook is marginally more positive, up 1.0% to 1.970 million units, with BEV market share expected at 22.3%, despite concerns over the lack of consumer incentives and a dependency on fleet registrations for growth. If we’re to see 

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