CEO Update

New year, similar challenges

07 January 2022 #CEO Update

The first week of the new year brought with it a mixed bag of news for the car industry. The bad is that over the course of last year just 1.65 million new cars were registered, representing a meagre 1.0% increase on a subdued 2020 and -28.7% below 2019 pre-Covid levels.

While demand for new cars is certainly there, the global semiconductor shortage decimated supply in 2021 and was the single biggest factor in the market performance. Yet despite this and other challenges, the good news is the growth in electric car uptake, following billions of pounds of investment into new technology by manufacturers over recent years.

2021 was a record-breaking year with more new battery electric vehicles registered than over the previous five combined. The vehicles are there, with two of every five new car models now able to be plugged in and drivers today have the widest ever choice of zero emission cars. The biggest obstacles to growing uptake further, however, is not product availability but cost and charging infrastructure.

Recent cuts to incentives and home charging grants should be reversed and we need to boost the roll out of public on-street charging with mandated targets, providing every driver, wherever they live, with the assurance they can charge where they want and when they want. Only this will ensure there is inherent fairness and that we stay on track to deliver shared net zero ambitions on the road to 2030.

There was also good news for commercial vehicle registrations, which rebounded by a fifth, taking new transactions to just shy of pre-Covid levels. A record number of battery electric vans were registered in 2021, and while moving this fleet to zero emissions will be no mean feat, the industry is committed to the development and introduction of more zero emission technologies to meet the specific needs of commercial vehicle users so we can keep society and businesses moving in a cleaner way.

As we get going in 2022 it won’t be long until we host SMMT’s Electrified, the first major SMMT event of the year. Taking place in the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster (Covid-permitting) on Wednesday 23 March, the event will focus on how industry, stakeholders and government can join forces to accelerate the transition to zero emission mobility. To register for tickets, please click here.

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