CEO Update

Electric car and van market amplifies in April

05 May 2023 #CEO Update

Ahead of a historic weekend with the country preparing to commemorate the coronation of King Charles III, the latest new vehicle registration figures out yesterday also give cause for celebration. With the ninth month of growth for cars and the fourth for light commercial vehicles in April under our belts, we can be optimistic that both markets are on the road to recovery.

The easing of the supply chain shortages that have held back the sector for so long underpins increased confidence, leading to the first upward revision of the market outlook in more than two years. Some 1.83 million new cars and 326,000 new vans are now expected to join UK roads this year – up from the 1.79 million and 321,000 anticipated in the previous quarterly outlook.

The sector was less optimistic, however, about the outlook for zero emission vehicles, downgrading its growth expectations for both cars and vans this year and next. Despite the ongoing rise in uptake – with battery electric cars up 25.6% and vans up 14.8% so far this year – the pace of growth has slowed with high energy costs and insufficient charging infrastructure softening demand.

With transport decarbonisation an urgent priority and a Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate set to come into force in just seven months’ time, we need concerted action now to address the barriers to uptake. Manufacturers have invested massively, introducing a growing choice of electric and hydrogen vehicles to the market, and continue to invest in new models and technologies. This commitment must be matched by government in terms of consumer support – by private purchasers – and especially by those involved in chargepoint provision if we are to meet our shared ambitions.

Department for Transport statistics shows that the charging network has increased by 8% in the first quarter. This is positive but the pace must be accelerated four fold just to meet the charge point sector’s claim that the network will double this year. Rolling out the right kind of infrastructure to suit all vehicle needs in the right places, and at pace, is now of the essence. This will not only provide assurances to current EV motorists and operators but help encourage those on the fence to make the switch.

Finally this week, we were delighted to welcome more than 240 delegates from across the industry and over 30 exhibitors to the British Motor Museum in Warwickshire for SMMT Regional Forum West Midlands. It provided a platform to discuss the latest industry insights, opportunities and challenges for the ssector across region, a key location for the UK’s auto industry. The move away from internal combustion engines is providing ample opportunity for supply chain companies to get involved in EV manufacturing and to work with manufacturers on new technologies and innovations. My thanks to all of you who attended, to our sponsors DHL and to all our speakers, as well as the SMMT team for making the event such a great success.

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