Electric and hybrid vehicle sales reach new UK market share record

Sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles achieved combined 14 per cent market share in March, SMMT figures show

Sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles together reached their highest ever volume in the UK last month, with automakers now offering more electric car models than ever in a bid to meet increasing demand, the latest industry figures today show.

Battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles took a combined market share of almost 14 per cent in March 2021, up from 7.3 per cent share during the same month last year, when lockdown measures were first imposed in the UK to stem the spread of the Covid-19 virus, according to SMMT.

Overall, new registrations of battery electric vehicles increased by over 88 per cent to 22,000 last month compared to March 2020, while plug-in hybrid sales stood at over 17,300, up from almost 6,900 last year, the trade body’s data shows. Non-plug-in hybrid electric vehicle sales also rose by 42 per cent last month to reach almost 21,600, while Tesla’s Model 3 electric car was the UK’s third best-selling vehicle last month with almost 6,600 registrations.

During 2021 so far, battery EV sales are up over 74 per cent compared to the same period last year at almost 32,800, while plug-in hybrid sales have surged 93 per cent over the same period, to hit 26,600, the data reveals.

The auto industry trade body a said the number of models available to customers across the industry also now stands at 116, a significant increase in the 72 electric vehicles (EVs) available on the UK market at the same time last year.

Sales of greener car technologies are a bright spot during an otherwise challenging year for the car industry in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and Brexit, a period which SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes described as “the toughest in history”, although he said EV sales were “helping drive a recovery”.

The sector is still struggling to return to pre-pandemic sales levels across all technologies, including diesels and petrol cars. On average, around 5,600 new cars are being registered on a daily basis in the UK, compared to the average 7,400 seen over the past decade, according to SMMT.

“New plug-in models are already helping drive a recovery but to convince more retail consumers to make the switch, they must be assured these new technologies will be convenient for their driving needs and that means, above all, that the charging infrastructure is there where they need it, and when they need it,” said Hawes.

Lucy Simpson, head of EV enablement at Centrica Business Solutions, agreed that while the latest sales data was “promising”, a lack of charging infrastructure was an continuing barrier to uptake that “needs urgent attention if the UK is to hit its climate goals and support sustainable economic growth”.

“The continued rise in EV registrations is proof that increasing numbers are recognising the advantages of low-emission road transport over traditionally fuelled alternatives,” she said. “As the country builds back from coronavirus, financial incentives that encourage mainstream EV adoption and accelerate the rollout of charging infrastructure must remain a key priority for policymakers. Adequate availability of charging points in homes, workplaces and public places will be crucial to the success of the government’s levelling-up agenda, and we must ensure charge point inaccessibility doesn’t stall the good progress being made to electrify the UK’s vehicles – a vital component of the Road to Zero strategy.”

The data follows the government’s announcement last month that it plans to cut plug-in car grants from £3,000 to £2,500, which it argued would allow its popular grant scheme to support more motorists in making the switch to EVs.

Read more: businessgreen.com