Tuesday, March 28News For London

Clamour for electric sends new car registrations soaring in November

Image Credit: Nicholas Dunning & Xiaoyue Zhang

November appeared a bumper month for car registrations, with sales up 23.5% on a year earlier. The uptick was driven by soaring demand for electric vehicles which now account for a record 28% of sales, according to fresh figures.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) data released Monday obscures a weaker reality for manufacturers and retailers whose sales are still 8.8% lower than in 2019.

Last year sales were held down as the industry battled global supply issues due to worker and parts shortages fuelled by the global pandemic.

The second best-selling vehicle of November was the Tesla Model-Y, a fully electric car, which ranks as the ninth most popular so far this year.

Fully petrol and diesel cars now account for less than half of all orders as the market nears the UK’s ban on the sale of fossil fuel-powered vehicles, scheduled for 2030.

Galloping sales of plug-ins requires serious government planning according to Mike Hawes, the Chief Executive of SMMT.

He told Westminster World that although the market has been “resillient in the face of supply and economic challenges”, future long-term growth hinged on “urgent measures [that] are required – not least a fair approach to driving EV adoption that recognises these vehicles remain more expensive, and measures to compel investment in a charging network that is build ahead of need”.

He said such measures would “encourage consumer appetite across the country and accelerate the UK’s journey to net zero”.

Image credit: Nicholas Dunning & Xiaoyue Zhang

The government has faced criticism from campaigners and the SMMT over its perceived lack of action to support the transition.

Grant Shapps, then transport minister, unveiled a design for public chargers at Cop26, lauding it as on a par with the nation’s iconic post and telephone boxes – only then to scrap it.

The SMMT said: “government should not be pulling the plug on projects that would make the UK’s charging network more accessible”.

The Department for Transport said the designs “raised awareness” of the wider policy while the actual scheme for which the design was devoted is now “not intended for manufacture or deployment”.

This year the government withdrew all subsidies for electric vehicles, announcing that it would pivot to supporting renters install chargers at home, and use the funds to support investment in the wider charging network.

Fresh rules that came into force this year stipulate that all new homes built must have charge points installed.

The government has set a target for 300,000 public charges to be in place across the country by 2030. The SMMT says this goal is unlikely.

Industry bosses foresee further bumps in the road for the car market as it emerges from the pandemic. The UK’s economy is thought to be in recession as consumer spending falters.

Incomes are being squeezed by a cost-of-living crisis caused by the fallout of the Russia-Ukraine war and the lingering effects of the pandemic.

Video Credit: Nicholas Dunning