The UK car market is going electric: New AutoMotive’s market report

  • UK car market sees electric surge, dropping to 50% petrol/diesel share.
  • Ben Nelmes champions electric cars amid consumer-driven shift.
  • Regional dynamics, struggles of Chinese brands, and impending ZEV mandate reshape the automotive landscape.

Electric vehicles push the UK car market towards net zero

According to New AutoMotive, the UK car market is roaring back to life. The best part? The growth is being driven by a surge in electric and hybrid car sales. In a momentous turn, petrol and diesel’s market share is on the brink of dropping below the 50% mark. However, only 25% of new cars in the UK have a plug, highlighting the urgent need for faster electrification.

New car registrations, 2023 year-to-date (YTD) vs 2022 – Source: New AutoMotive
Ben Nelmes, Chief Executive of New AutoMotive said:

“It is fantastic to see consumers and businesses continue to embrace electric cars, despite an unprecedented cost of living crisis and rising interest rates. 

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UK heat map: New EV Registrations – Source: New AutoMotive

Electrification is the only growth strategy for the UK’s car industry. After the Prime Minister’s decision to push back the 2030 target, motorists are now the driving force behind the UK’s climate leadership as they switch to clean cars in record numbers. 

With over 50,000 public charge points now operating in the UK, it has never been easier to drive and charge an electric car. Ministers should set out a timetable to launch the Rapid Charging Fund to continue this exponential growth.”

As always, the automotive landscape is full of nuances. Chinese EV behemoth, BYD, is grappling to establish a substantial foothold in the UK market. However, MG is charting an impressive trajectory. The Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate, set to debut in 2023, stands ready to reshape the automotive terrain. Brands like Tesla and Polestar are strategically positioned to capitalize on the mandate. Other manufacturers might need to navigate the strategic flexibilities offered in the initial three years of the scheme.

Zooming in on regional dynamics, specific UK areas are emerging as electric car hotspots. This is propelled by a mix of local policies and consumer preferences. Peterborough, Oxford, and Wimbledon have emerged as the front-runners. Excitingly, the top ten EV areas in the UK are registering 8,000 new electric vehicles a month. 

Bikes, vans, and HGVs

As the ZEV mandate beckons, van manufacturers are facing the deadline of 10% of all new van sales being electric by 2024. That means the electric van market is gearing up for the shift. At the moment, Vauxhall are  predicted to emerge as a major beneficiary in the UK.

New van registrations, 2023 year-to-date (YTD) vs 2022 – Source: New AutoMotive

In the two-wheeled realm, motorcycle sales are experiencing a slowdown. Petrol motorcycles made a slight September uptick but they’re losing market share. In contrast, EV motorcycles, exemplified by the Maeving RM1, are enjoying a 28.4% sales surge. This is underpinned by a staggering 1,060% growth this year. However, their widespread adoption is hampered by an unfortunately glaring limitation—limited fast-charging options.

Shifting gears to the heavyweight domain, electric Heavy Goods Vehicles are witnessing a doubling in registrations during the first three quarters. While this indicates a promising trend, the sector urgently needs a comprehensive policy framework and government support to facilitate a broader adoption. HGVs account for a third of the UK’s diesel consumption, so the importance of government intervention in this arena is paramount. We are seeing plenty of initiatives and collaborations to propel electric HGV use across the country. As such, we can expect this to become a major talking point in the run-up to net zero. 

The wheels of change are in full motion across the UK automotive landscape. Electric cars are at the forefront of this transformative journey, influencing not only individual preferences but also reshaping various segments of the market.

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