CEO Update

Electric car boom drives January registrations

04 February 2022 #CEO Update

After a difficult year in 2021, there was some good news for the UK automotive industry today with January new car registrations increasing by more than a quarter, with a major uplift in demand for electrified vehicles.

With more than 140 plug-in car models available to UK buyers currently, and another 50 or so to come this year, consumers have more choice than ever. It is little surprise, therefore, that 14,433 new BEVs and 9,047 PHEVs – equal to a fifth of the market – were registered last month. With a further 13,492 HEVs also being sold, almost one in three new cars joining British roads was electrified last month.

According to the latest industry outlook, this growth is set to continue in 2022 with BEV and PHEV demand expected to grow by 61% and 42% respectively. This would see one in four new cars sold this year come with a plug. The overall market overall is also predicted to improve significantly on last year, but headwinds have led to a slight revision down to 1.9m registrations.

This ongoing growth in electric vehicle registrations is remarkable considering debilitating effects of the global semiconductor shortage on supply. Manufacturers have sought to prioritise these new technology vehicles and the UK has been able to secure its fair share. With more than one in six new cars registered last year electrified, average new car CO2 emissions fell by 11.1% to its lowest ever level of 119.7g/km.

However, if CO2 is to continue to fall and potentially at a faster pace, more drivers must switch to electric and other zero emission cars. One of the biggest obstacles remains, however, perceptions about the availability of public chargers, specifically local, on street chargers. The expansion of this network must keep pace with the increasing levels of demand, something that may require mandated targets to deliver given the rapid growth of electric vehicles.

In terms of the LCV market, there was a similar pattern with registrations of battery electric vans growing by 21.4% in January. However, uptake rates still lag significantly compared with the car market, which has the same end of sale date – underlining the criticality of an accessible and affordable charging network and compelling purchase incentives. Although the overall LCV market was down -26.9% last month, the latest market forecast predicts another strong year for registrations, with market rising by 2.0%.

These issues and more will be high on the agenda at SMMT’s Electrified 2022, for which we were delighted to announce the latest speakers this week. Added to those speakers already announced will be Eric-Mark Huitema, Director General, ACEA; Richard Jones, Managing Director of Motor Finance and Leasing, Lloyds Banking Group; Eddie Flanagan, Partner, Shakespeare Martineau; Stuart Sanders, Director, Communications and Product, Toyota GB; and Carl Hanson, Group Operations Director, Wincanton. For more information and to register for tickets, please visit the event page here.

Finally, SMMT is delighted to once again support the Autocar Great Women in Auto awards. The sector is working hard to improve its record on diversity and inclusion and if initiatives such as this can inspire more women to consider the automotive industry as a career, we can begin to address the gender imbalance as well as developing more initiatives to address other diversity issues. I wish every entrant the very best of luck.


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