Summer surge? New EV registered every 60 seconds, SMMT report reveals

Battery electric vehicles saw 87.9% more deliveries in July, and it looks like things will get even better in the coming period

The new electric car market has seen a dramatic surge in the month of July, growing by 87.9 per cent with a new electric car being registered every 60 seconds, according to a report published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

SMMT says that July was a great month for all new car sales across the board, as it grew by 28.3% with 143,921 new vehicles registered, enjoying non-stop growth for a full year despite challenging economic conditions, as supply chain challenges ease, production increases and deliveries can be fulfilled.

While the overall market year so far is still behind pre-pandemic levels, the continued growth shows a restoration of customer confidence, according to SMMT, as the last month marked the best July performance since 2020, when pent-up demand for new cars was unleashed following three months of lockdown.

> UK drivers three times more likely to take their EVs on holidays in Europe

And more significantly, electrified vehicles accounted for more than a third of the market. Hybrid electric vehicles’ volumes grew, although their overall market share fell to 11.3 per cent, while plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) registrations saw a significant uplift for the second month in a row as uptake rose almost 80 per cent to account for 8 per cent of the market.

The biggest increase, however, was for battery electric vehicles (BEVs), which recorded an 87.9 per cent increase to account for 16 per cent of all new registrations for the month, a market share broadly consistent with that seen so far this year.

SMMT said that the demand for battery electric cars was such that a new one was registered every 60 seconds in the month. Furthermore, according to the latest market outlook published today, this will accelerate to one every 50 seconds by the end of the year, and up to one every 40 seconds by the end of 2024.

The trade association also added that a reason for this notable uptake was the continuing investment in the charging infrastructure across the country over the last quarter.

> Every vehicle class now available as EVs — lack of public chargers still a barrier

A record high of 3,056 new standard public chargers were installed. This was equal to one new charger for every 35 new plug-in vehicles registered, a significant improvement on the same quarter last year when the ratio was one for every 58 cars.

However, it pointed out, to keep up the trend, “reassuring drivers means building ahead of need”. “To reach the government’s minimum target of 300,000 charge points by 2030, the installation rate must treble to almost 10,000 chargers per quarter, every quarter,” said SMMT.

“This can only be achieved if the obstacles to installation so commonly cited – arcane planning regulations, competing pressures on local authorities and delays to grid connections – are overcome. An overarching strategy, including a charge point mandate, is necessary to create the reliable, accessible and affordable charging network consumers deserve,” it added.

> Britain’s EV charging infrastructure needs a rethink

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “The industry remains committed to meeting the UK’s zero emission deadlines and continues to make the investments to get us there. Choice and innovation in the market are growing, so it’s encouraging to see more people switching on to the benefits of driving electric.

“With inflation, rising costs of living and a zero-emission vehicle mandate that will dictate the market coming next year, however, consumers must be given every possible incentive to buy. Government must pull every lever, therefore, to make buying, running and, especially, charging an EV affordable and practical for every driver in every part of the country.”

The latest market outlook now anticipates overall new car registrations to reach 1.847 million by the end of the year, a slight rise from expectations in April. Of these, BEVs are expected to take an 18 per cent market share or 330,000 units, a slight decrease on April’s outlook, while PHEVs are set to achieve 7 per cent of the market with 134,000 units.

Looking further ahead, the outlook for 2024 has been downgraded marginally, reflecting wider concerns about the cost of living. However, BEVs are expected to achieve a whopping quarter of the overall market share next year reaching 440,000 units.

With a further 155,000 PHEVs anticipated to be registered, commanding 8 per cent of the market, plug-in hybrids are likely to account for three in every 10 new cars registered in 2024.

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