EV uptake stalls after Sunak pushes back net zero deadlines


ev charging

Growth in electric car sales is slowing after Rishi Sunak pushed back a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles to 2035.

Battery electric vehicles represented 15.6pc of new car sales in October, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), only up slightly compared to 14.8pc a year ago.

The sluggish numbers prompted the trade body to slash its full-year forecast for EV sales growth – even as it upgraded predictions for petrol and diesel cars.

It now expects 324,000 EVs to be registered by the end of 2023, down 1.7pc from earlier estimates. That amounts to an overall market share of 17.2pc.

At the same time, the figures show more than three-quarters of EV sales this year have been to businesses rather than individual drivers.

The SMMT said the data underscored the need for Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to unveil a new package of financial incentives to boost EV sales in his Autumn Statement.

Charging point availability across the country was a key factor in whether drivers were choosing to buy EVs, the SMMT added.

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It comes after a decision by the Prime Minister in September to push back a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035.

A gradual switch towards electric cars is a key pillar of the Government’s strategy to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said: “As fleet uptake flourishes, particularly for EVs, sustained success depends on encouraging all consumers to invest in the latest zero-emission vehicles.

“The Autumn Statement is a key opportunity for government to introduce incentives and facilitate infrastructure investment.

“Doing so would send a clear signal of support for drivers, reassuring them that now is the time to switch to electric.”

The latest figures from the SMMT show UK car sales have enjoyed 15 months of successive growth.

However, the lobby group said this had been “driven almost entirely” by company fleet registrations, rather than by individual drivers.

These amounted to 87,479 vehicles in October, a 29pc rise compared to a year earlier, while registrations by private consumers were almost flat at 62,915 vehicles.

There were 23,943 new EVs registered, an increase of 20pc compared to last year. But the SMMT said growth in other categories meant that the market share of EVs grew by just 0.8pc to 15.6pc over the same 12-month period.

So far in 2023, EVs accounted for 16.3pc of new registrations – up slightly from 14.6pc this time last year.

In October, sales of hybrid electric vehicles were up 25pc and those of plug-in hybrid vehicles rose by 61pc.

The SMMT said the higher sales of plug-in vehicles reflected a rise in charge point availability.

In the third quarter of 2023, a record 4,753 charge points came online – but these were “disproportionately focused” on London and the South East, which received four in five of those commissioned.

By comparison, just 13 chargers were installed in Yorkshire and Humberside.

“With EV uptake greatly influenced by perceptions of charge point infrastructure availability and accessibility, action should be taken to ensure more equitable distribution and pricing for public charging,” the SMMT added.

The group said it was upgrading its overall market outlook for the year, predicting that new car registrations will reach 1.89m by the end of 2023 – up by 2.1pc compared to an earlier estimate in July.


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