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Electric car boom bucks the trend during ‘torrid’ year for UK automotive

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Demand for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) increased by 184.3% in September compared with the same month last year (Credit: Shutterstock)
Demand for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) increased by 184.3% in September compared with the same month last year (Credit: Shutterstock)

Battery electric and plug-in hybrids accounted for more than one in 10 of new cars registered in the UK in September.

Demand for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) increased by 184.3% compared with September last year, according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), with the month accounting for a third of the year’s BEV registrations.

The government should commit to a ‘truly world-class package of incentives’ and binding targets on infrastructure to help meet accelerating ambitions for electric cars, the SMMT said.

Electric car sales have bucked the trend during a tough year for UK automotive. The new car market declined 4.4% in September, with 328,041 new registrations – 15.8% lower than the 10-year average for the month.

Despite the relaxation of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in June and the restart of factory production lines, the sector still faces challenges from Brexit uncertainty and the threat of tariffs. Consumer and business confidence is also threatened by the upcoming end of the furlough scheme, the SMMT said, with an expected rise in unemployment.

“With little realistic prospect of recovering the 615,000 registrations lost so far in 2020, the sector now expects an overall 30.6% market decline by the end of the year, equivalent to some £21.2 billion in lost sales,” the organisation said.

Chief executive Mikes Hawes said: “During a torrid year, the automotive industry has demonstrated incredible resilience, but this is not a recovery. Despite the boost of a new registration plate, new model introductions and attractive offers, this is still the poorest September since the two-plate system was introduced in 1999. Unless the pandemic is controlled and economy-wide consumer and business confidence rebuilt, the short-term future looks very challenging indeed.” 

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