EV demand drives sales rise

UK new car registrations rose by 15% in February as 58,994 new cars joined Britain’s roads, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The rise of 7,682 units was in comparison with the same month in 2021, when the pandemic shut car showrooms across the UK. Despite this positive performance, registrations are down 25.9% on pre-pandemic levels.

Compared with February 2021, when showrooms were closed and only ‘click and collect’ permitted, private registrations rose by 30%, while large fleet registrations were up just two per cent.

It was another bumper month for battery electric vehicles (BEVs), however, which took a 17.7% market share to reach 10,417 units, while registrations of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) rose to 4,677 units and a 7.9% share of the market. When combined with hybrid (HEV) registrations (6,883), electrified vehicles accounted for more than a third of all new cars leaving dealerships.

Of greater concern to the long-term delivery of net zero road transport, however, is the need for accelerated public chargepoint provision. Investments are being made, but at a pace that continues to lag behind plug-in vehicle uptake.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Despite February’s traditional low registration numbers, consumers are switching to EVs in ever-increasing numbers. More than ever, infrastructure investment needs to accelerate to match this growth. Government must use its upcoming Spring Statement to enable this transition, continuing support for home and workplace charging, boosting public chargepoint rollout to tackle charging anxiety and, given the massive increase in energy prices, reducing VAT on public charging points. This will energise both consumer and business confidence and accelerate our switch to zero emission mobility.”