EVs are continuing to grow in popularity despite a cooling of the new car market

New car registrations in July have dipped by almost a third, down 29.5 per cent on last year as a perfect storm of issues hit sales. EVs, however, have continued to grow in popularity, bucking the downward trend not just in July, but posting stellar figures for the year to date.

A mixture of supply issues have dogged the industry meaning there’s a shortfall in new cars. The ongoing semiconductor shortage combined with staff absences here and abroad, driven by COVID and – domestically – the so-called ‘pingdemic’ have curtailed the number of cars that brands can actually sell.

And it’s not just supply that has been affected. Demand has dwindled as rising infection rates and notifications of exposure to the virus have caused people to push back planned purchases. In fact, these issues have come together to create the weakest July since 1998, down 22.3 per cent on average.

But for our corner of the market things are going from strength-to-strength. Plug-in vehicles took 17 per cent of all sales, with pure electric owning a nine per cent share and PHEVs claiming eight per cent. This is a 36.5 per cent increase for EVs and 32.2 per cent increase for PHEVs compared to last year in terms of numbers, and a near-doubling of market share.

Compared to petrol (down 45.5 per cent) and diesel (down 69.5 per cent) – excluding MHEVs – zero emissions-capable alternatives are soaring in popularity.

According to SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes: “The bright spot (in registrations) remains the increasing demand for electrified vehicles as consumers respond in ever greater numbers to these new technologies, driven by increased product choice, fiscal and financial incentives and an enjoyable driving experience.”

A stellar year so far

Whilst the market dip in July for overall sales is likely to turn out to be a blip rather than a trend, the overall performance of EVs and PHEVs since the beginning of the year has been very strong. Regular hybrids are also performing well, and mild hybrids are now so common that they’re doing well by default, albeit we’d not lump these in as cars that offer a significant emissions advantage over non-MHEV petrol or diesel.

Despite the lowering of the government’s plug-in car grant consumers have not been put off, with 85,032 EVs and 68,107 PHEVs registered to date for an 8.2 per cent and 6.6 per cent market share respectively. These figures represent well over a doubling of both categories compared to the same period in 2020.

A greater understanding of how to get the best from EV ownership, an increase of nearly 5000 public chargers (predominantly at the faster end of the spectrum) for the year to date, plus a greater range of EVs to choose from are significant pull factors. That’s before you even mention the financial savings that are possible when compared to internal combustion.

The spectre of a worsening climate emergency which is hitting the headlines, plus the planned ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030 are acting as push factors in tandem. For those who have the ability to jump from the fossil fuel-powered ship, the reasons for doing so are quickly stacking up. Ensuring that more people can make that transition is now critical.

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