Following March’s disappointing ‘new numberplate’ registration figures, April felt all too familiar with the same pandemic-related headwinds continuing to restrict a recovery in the new passenger car and light commercial vehicle markets. Some 119,167 new cars and 21,597 vans joined UK roads last month, down -15.8% and -29.1% respectively, as ongoing supply chain issues – most notably the global shortage of semiconductors – constrained deliveries.
Manufacturers continue to do everything they can to fulfil orders as quickly as possible and demand is currently robust, but with mounting geopolitical issues, rising energy costs and inflation squeezing household and business incomes, the coming months will be no less challenging.
Consequently, SMMT has revised its market outlook with 1.72 million new cars and 328,000 vans now expected be registered in 2022, down from the 1.89 million and 363,000 estimated in January. Plug-in vehicles also saw their outlook fall with 289,000 battery electric and 144,000 plug-in hybrid electric car registrations anticipated, down from 307,000 and 163,000 respectively. Across the year, plug-ins look set to equate to a quarter of all new cars registered. Meanwhile, battery electric vans are expected to account for 6.3% of the new LCV market.
This latest outlook comes as the government consults on the technical framework for its new Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate, set to be implemented in just over 18 months’ time. The industry remains committed to the ambition, including the end of sale date of ICE cars and vans in 2035. However, any regulation designed to accelerate this shift must be simple, pragmatic, reflect the diversity of the industry and include policies to encourage consumers to make the switch, including addressing charging anxiety. Hence the need for commensurate and binding targets on public chargepoint provision. It is this package of measures that will be required if we are to have a healthy, electrified new vehicle market, delivering the fleet renewal that will, in turn, deliver the carbon savings the UK’s Net Zero ambition demands.
Elsewhere this week, SMMT was at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland to host more than 200 senior automotive delegates, alongside regional media, at SMMT Regional Forum North East. The region, which has been ramping up zero-emission vehicle and battery production, has seen £4.1 billion worth of electrification investment over the past decade, creating at least 7,000 new jobs in EV manufacturing.
The event provided a platform for discussion on the opportunities and challenges for the sector in the North East, and it was great to see so many of you in person again. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our speakers and SMMT staff, for making the event such a success.