Rising EV sales remain ray of light in declining new car market
New car registrations declined again last month, but rising demand for electric and hybrid cars provides one silver lining.
The SMMT data for October shows overall registrations fell 1.6% to 140,945, adding to existing to concerns and uncertainties over the outlook for the car sector, in particular a no-deal Brexit. Private registrations edged up 0.4% while business registrations to sub-25 fleets rose 4.0%. But fleet registrations were down 3.3% to 77,249 units, following 5.8% and 5.5% declines in September and August, and a 5.2% gain in July.
Year-to-date, it means the overall new car sector is down 31.0% to 1,384,601 units; with private sales down 27.0%, fleet down 33.8% and business registrations down 43.7%, further opening up the gap between the latter two.
One silver lining though remains the ongoing rise in demand for electrified vehicles – continuing to indicate a way out of the downturn, in particular for fleets. While diesel car registrations plummeted 38.4% in October and petrol was down 21.3%, battery electric vehicles were up 195.2%, PHEVs rose 148.7% and hybrids were up 39.0%.
Sue Robinson, chief executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), said the continued, strong growth in the battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle segments was encouraging, adding: “Over the past months, dealers have experienced large volumes of online enquiries and we expect this to continue through November.”
Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions’ Jon Lawes said the long-term growth in demand for electric and hybrid vehicles “demonstrates to the industry and government that consumers and business see real alternatives to diesel and petrol vehicles”.
“To keep this momentum in line with the growing number of electric and hybrid models coming to market, we are calling on the Government to collaborate more effectively with our industry to develop the charging infrastructure which will adequately support, and accelerate the transition to EVs and crucially, provide both business and consumers with the confidence that EVs are operationally viable replacements,” he outlined.
A further spur could be the Government announcement of a 2030 date for 100% EV sales; something the UK’s major fleets continue to lobby for.