EV sales in UK are forecast to reach half a million units in 2023 but measures are needed to ensure a fair net zero transition.
Nearly one in four new cars sold in UK in February were plug-ins, battery-powered deliveries rose 18.2 per cent with all EV cars taking almost a quarter market share, according to industry group the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) recorded the most significant growth of all fuel types, up 40.0 per cent, followed by petrol, up 35.8 per cent with a 56.9 per cent market share, while diesel registrations fell by -7.0 per cent. Zero emission capable vehicles, meanwhile, continued their upward trend, with plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) rising 1.0 per cent and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) posting another strong month, up 18.2 per cent to account for one in six new UK car registrations.
Combined, plug-ins accounted for almost a quarter (22.8 per cent) of all deliveries in the month, with further growth anticipated. Indeed, nearly half a million (488,000) PHEVs and BEVs are expected to join Britain’s roads in 2023, as manufacturers bring more than 40 new plug-in electric models to the market.
This will inevitably increase demand for charging infrastructure, however, and while the new £56 million LEVI capability funding is welcome there remains a clear requirement for binding targets that ensure chargepoint rollout keeps pace.
The automotive sector continues to improve its sustainability, reducing energy use, sourcing more responsibly and increasing recycling. Total energy use has declined, by -6.1 per cent on last year, and water use per vehicle fell -6.3 per cent. Waste to landfill also hit a record low, of 0.6 per cent, with 17 report signatories reporting zero waste.
However, energy used per vehicle has risen by 4.5 per cent – a direct consequence of 2021’s diminished output arising from semiconductor shortages, and herein lies the challenge and opportunity for UK Automotive to set the standard for others to follow.
The environmental performance of the products continues to break new records. Average new car emissions were again at the lowest level ever recorded, some -11.2 per cent down on 2020 as manufacturers bring an ever-wider choice of lower and zero emission vehicles to market.
Supporting EV manufacturing in the UK supports jobs and economic growth. Greater output delivers greater efficiency and greater revenue which can be channelled back into efficiency improvements, R&D or essential environmental projects such as those highlighted in this report. Meanwhile, 12 OEMs have committed to science-based targets that will ensure they contribute to efforts to limit global warning to less than less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
“After seven months of growth, it is no surprise that the UK automotive sector is facing the future with growing confidence,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. “It is vital, however, that government takes every opportunity to back the EV market, which plays a significant role in Britain’s economy and net zero ambition. As we move into ‘new plate month’ in March, with more of the latest high-tech cars available, the upcoming Budget must deliver measures that drive this transition, increasing affordability and ease of charging for all.”