UK electric car registrations surge in August but it’s a long road to zero and barriers must be addressed

SMMT

Zero emission cars saw the biggest percentage growth, up 377.5%, to 3,147 units as new models and some pent up demand boosted registrations

Registrations from both the private and fleet sectors declined in the month, down -1.7% and -3.5% respectively, as demand in the small volume business segment increased by some 962 units. Meanwhile, diesel registrations fell for the 29th month in a row, though at a slower pace than recently experienced (-12.2%), while petrol demand remained stable, up 1.0%. Zero emission cars saw the biggest percentage growth, up 377.5%, to 3,147 units as new models and some pent up demand boosted registrations, while 4,014 hybrid electric cars also joined UK roads, an uplift of 36.2%. However, the decline in plug-in hybrid registrations continued, down -71.8% to just 907 vehicles.

UK new car buyers can now choose from a huge range of technologies to suit their lifestyles and driving needs. In addition to the cleanest-ever petrols and diesels, the UK’s alternatively fuelled offering now includes some 27 hybrids, 27 plug-in hybrids, and 24 zero emission battery electric and hydrogen models. Exciting new powertrain technologies, the result of massive manufacturer investment, are now rapidly coming to market – with the range set to almost double over the coming year. However, with demand still lagging behind ambitious government targets, it is clear that much more needs to be done, and quickly, to address consumer concerns over cost and infrastructure to make this emerging technology more accessible.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

August is typically the new car market’s quietest month so the huge increase in EV registrations is very visible but especially welcome. It’s great to see consumers respond to the massive industry investment made over many years. While this is encouraging, these figures also show the scale of the challenge ahead. It’s a long road to zero and while manufacturers can deliver the technology, they can’t dictate the pace of uptake. To support a smooth transition and deliver environmental gains now, we need a long-term government commitment to measures that give consumers confidence to invest in the latest technologies that best suit their needs.

Against the backdrop of improving technology and accelerating climate change, the UK Government has published its Road to Zero Strategy, which foresees that a third of the UK’s fleet on the road in 2030 will be electric. The government has also vowed to end sales of internal combustion vehicles in the UK by 2040.

Lord Redesdale, the Energy Managers Association Chief Executive, said,

This is an optimistic prediction considering 2030 is only eleven years away. Furthermore there is a problem with zero emissions at the tail pipe, as the energy must be provided by the grid and the resulting load will not be inconsiderable. Don’t get me wrong, there will be a huge increase in the number of electric vehicles on the road, but the charging infrastructure needed and local power constraints which will kick in with mass ownership will be a real headache. These increases in EV charging demand will have to be managed by better consumer engagement, smart-charging technology, and other innovative vehicle-to-grid solutions at scale.

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