CEO Update

The Road to Zero is paved with good intentions

10 May 2019 #CEO Update

Registration figures for April were published this week, showing a -4.1% drop over the 2018 numbers, with private and business purchases down but fleet registrations propping up the month’s total with a 2.9% boost.

Clearly there is still uncertainty in the market, and we maintain that more needs to be done to reassure buyers and restore consumer confidence. The number that particularly stood out to us, however, was the decline in registrations of plug-in hybrids.

Overall AFV numbers were up 12.7% in April, reflecting the increased choice and strides forward that manufacturers are making with zero emission-capable cars. Clearly there is some appetite among buyers to take up these developing technologies, but it’s a concern among those positive increases to see plug-in hybrids falling back by -34.4% year on year.

This significant decline is evidence of the consequences of prematurely removing upfront purchase incentives before the market is ready. While AFV numbers are growing, they still only represent a tiny fraction of the market. The industry has invested billions in getting these cars to market, but there’s still more to be done in enabling purchases and easing some of the fears around infrastructure that are holding potential buyers back.

With ever tougher environmental requirements on the horizon, every new car will have to play its part in reducing the environmental impact on the planet. We need policies that help get the latest, cleanest vehicles on the road more quickly and support market transition for all drivers. This includes investment in infrastructure and long-term incentives to make new technologies as affordable as possible.

Given the focus on the transition to zero emission technologies, our International Automotive Summit on 25 June is timely as will cover this and other pertinent topics for the industry. This week we announced two of the panellists for our ‘Future of Low Carbon’ discussion, Alex Smith, Managing Director of Volkswagen UK and Isbrand Ho, Managing Director of BYD Europe. They join Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, both of whom will be giving keynote speeches during the day, with more to be announced.