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UK electric car registrations surge in August but it’s a long road to zero and barriers must be addressed

05 September 2019 #Cars #Registrations #SMMT News
  • UK new car market falls -1.6% in August, to 92,573 registrations.
  • Good news for zero emission vehicle uptake, with registrations up nearly fivefold to take record 3.4% market share as hybrids also register growth.
  • Industry calls for policies and measures to boost uptake of latest, lowest emission vehicles, a vital step on the road to zero.

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The UK new car market remained steady in August, with just 1,521 fewer cars registered than in the same month last year, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Registrations fell by -1.6% in what is typically one of the smallest months of the year, as falling demand for diesel and plug-in hybrid vehicles continued to impact the overall market.

Registrations from both the private and fleet sectors declined in the month, down -1.7% and -3.5% respectively, as demand in the small volume business segment increased by some 962 units.

Meanwhile, diesel registrations fell for the 29th month in a row, though at a slower pace than recently experienced (-12.2%), while petrol demand remained stable, up 1.0%. Zero emission cars saw the biggest percentage growth, up 377.5%, to 3,147 units as new models and some pent up demand boosted registrations, while 4,014 hybrid electric cars also joined UK roads, an uplift of 36.2%. However, the decline in plug-in hybrid registrations continued, down -71.8% to just 907 vehicles.

UK new car buyers can now choose from a huge range of technologies to suit their lifestyles and driving needs. In addition to the cleanest-ever petrols and diesels, the UK’s alternatively fuelled offering now includes some 27 hybrids, 27 plug-in hybrids, and 24 zero emission battery electric and hydrogen models.

Exciting new powertrain technologies, the result of massive manufacturer investment, are now rapidly coming to market – with the range set to almost double over the coming year. However, with demand still lagging behind ambitious government targets, it is clear that much more needs to be done, and quickly, to address consumer concerns over cost and infrastructure to make this emerging technology more accessible.1

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

August is typically the new car market’s quietest month so the huge increase in EV registrations is very visible but especially welcome. It’s great to see consumers respond to the massive industry investment made over many years.

While this is encouraging, these figures also show the scale of the challenge ahead. It’s a long road to zero and while manufacturers can deliver the technology, they can’t dictate the pace of uptake.

To support a smooth transition and deliver environmental gains now, we need a long-term government commitment to measures that give consumers confidence to invest in the latest technologies that best suit their needs.

Notes to editors

1. SMMT forecasts 51,000 BEV registrations in 2020 to take 2.2% market share and 52,000 PHEV registrations to take 2.3% market share.

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