UK auto sales in 2021 remain below pre-pandemic levels, record electric vehicle sales achieved: SMMT

Strong points

New car sales stable over one year, down 28% from 2019

BEV sales at record highs at 11.6% of global share

Government action needed to further increase sales of electric vehicles

New car registrations in the UK were flat year-over-year in 2021 at 1.65 million units, according to data released Jan.6 by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

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The annual volume was 28% lower than pre-2019 pandemic levels, due to a number of challenges, including the current semiconductor shortage.

SMMT CEO Makes Hawes said it had been “another desperately disappointing year” for the industry as the pandemic continued to hamper the recovery and manufacturers struggled with tighter trade deals, accelerating technological changes and the global semiconductor shortage, which “decimated the supply”.

“Despite the challenges, the undeniable bright spot is the growth in electric car adoption … The models are here, with two out of five new car models now pluggable, drivers have the widest choice. and the industry is working hard to overcome supply constraints related to COVID, ”Hawes said.

Plug-in vehicles hit a record high in 2021, accounting for more than one in six registrations, according to the SMMT, while sales of pure battery electric vehicles reached one in nine registrations, more than the combined volume recorded during from the period 2016-. period 2020.

The UK was Europe’s third largest market for new car registrations in 2021, second by volume for plug-in vehicles and second for BEVs, he said.

“It is, however, only ninth overall in Europe for BEVs by market share, highlighting the progress still to be made, despite the fact that the UK has among the most ambitious targets of all major markets with the end of the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars scheduled for 2030, “said SMMT.

According to the data, BEV sales in 2021 totaled 190,727 units, up 76% year-on-year to take an overall market share of 11.6%, up from 6.6% in 2020.

Sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles also increased by 71% in the year 2021 to 114,554 units, with a market share of 7%, against 4.1% previously.

Sales of hybrid electric vehicles for the year also increased by 34% on the year to 147,246 units, representing an 8.9% share of total sales, up from 6.7% in 2020.

“After billions of pounds of investment in new technology by manufacturers, more than 40% of models are now available as plug-ins,” said SMMT.

Meanwhile, gasoline-powered cars continued to hold the largest market share at 46.3% or 762,103 units, although the share declined from 55.4% in the previous year, while the volume also fell 15.7% year over year, according to SMMT.

The market share of diesel vehicles almost halved, from 16% in 2020 to 8.2% in 2021, with 135,773 units sold in 2021, down 48% on the year, according to the data.

Risk of zero net ambitions

SMMT said that while the UK government aimed to end all sales of internal combustion engine cars by 2030, that target was also hampered by cuts in purchasing incentives and subsidies for shippers. domestic, which represented a risk for the auto industry and the government’s net zero. ambitions.

In March, the government updated its subsidy scheme for electric cars, vans and trucks, reducing subsidies for electric vehicles priced below £ 35,000 from £ 3,000 ($ 4,060) to a maximum from 2,500 GBP.

It also removed subsidies for more expensive vehicles, as these were “usually bought by drivers who can afford to change without a taxpayer subsidy.”

In addition, the slow growth of public street charging – where, on average, 16 cars potentially share a standard street charger – could dampen demand for electric vehicles and undermine the UK’s attractiveness as a as a place of sale for electric cars, ”he said.

SMMT called for expanded incentives and mandatory charging point targets to accelerate consumer adoption and increase the industry’s competitiveness globally.

In November, the government introduced new legislation to force new homes and buildings, including supermarkets and workplaces, to install electric vehicle charging stations from 2022, which would also apply to any building. undergoing major renovation which will leave the site with more than 10 parking spaces. .

The new legislation is expected to result in the installation of up to 145,000 additional charging points in England per year.


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