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20th June 2024

UK car registrations hit record high while consumer enthusiasm for electric vehicles wanes

New car registrations in the UK recently recorded a 21st month of continuous growth. The result is the industry’s best April since 2021, despite uptake still being below pre-pandemic levels.

The data, from a report conducted by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that new car registrations rose an additional 1% in April with electric vehicles (EVs) being the main drivers of market expansion.

Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) recorded the strongest growth, rising by 22.1% to account for 7.8% of the market, followed by hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) which rose 16.7% with a 13.1% share. Battery electric vehicle (BEV) uptake rose 10.7%, a significant year-on-year rise based on last April’s figures, but one sustained by business buyers while private retail demand continued to drop.

While the overall increase in EVs is positive, the industry is calling for urgent action to re-enthuse the private buyers’ market, with fewer than one in 6 new BEVs purchased in April going to consumers. This is being blamed on a lack of government incentive for private motorists, as well as poor infrastructure, as the industry struggles to overcome barriers to sale.

With a potential new government being decided upon at the 4th of July general election, the outlook for the future of EVs remains to be seen. Although attractive deals for EVs are in place at dealers across the UK, manufacturers cannot fund the mass market transition alone and the long-term success of the UK’s net zero ambition will depend on a growing consumer demand.

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