Plug-in car sales soar, but overall demand remains muted

Published:  06 December, 2021

Plug-in cars made up 28.1% of the total sold during November according to the latest figures from the SMMT, which saw overall registrations up 1.7% on the same month in 2020, which also brought four months of continuously falling sales to an end.

In total, 115,706 new cars were sold during November. While this represented a slight improvement on November 2020, this was still 31.3% down on pre-pandemic 2019.
Battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales made up 18.8% of the market, with 21,726 units. This was double the amount sold in November 2020. Meanwhile, the plug-in hybrid vehicle’(PHEV) share grew to 9.3% or 10,796 units.

Looking at the year-to-date figures, of the 1,538,585 new cars sold, 17.5% have been BEVs or PHEVs. Combined with the 9% share taken by hybrid electric vehicles, 26.5% of the new car market during 2021 has been electrified.

Despite this, the ratio of plug-in vehicles to standard public chargers in the UK, at 16:1 was found to be one of the worst among the top 10 global EV markets according to a recent SMMT study.

Commenting on the figures, SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “What looks like a positive performance belies the underlying weakness of the market. Demand is there, but the global shortage of semiconductors continues to bedevil production and therefore new car registrations. The continued acceleration of electrified vehicle registrations is good for the industry, the consumer and the environment but, with the pace of public charging infrastructure struggling to keep up, we need swift action and binding public charger targets so that everyone can be part of the electric vehicle revolution, irrespective of where they live.”

James Fairclough, CEO at AA Cars, added: “Changing customer tastes are reshaping the market. Plug-in vehicles have accounted for more than one in six cars registered in 2021. That’s close to double their market share of last year and nearly double the number of diesels sold. Steadily rising fuel prices in November, coupled with the buzz around the COP 26 summit in Glasgow, may have given EV sales a further lift last month, encouraging many buyers who had already been considering going electric to bring forward their decision. However, rather than face a long wait for a new model, thousands of motorists are choosing to focus on the second-hand market instead, where availability is significantly better.”

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