Plug-in hybrids were particularly popular with drivers in the UK, with figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showing sales increasing 221% – although that only accounted for one in 30 sales.
Registrations of battery electric cars increased by 77.6%, accounting for 6.4% of sales. They account for 4.9% of registrations for the year-to-date, up from 1.1% last year.
Despite the promising increase, the small overall percentage “clearly illustrates the scale of the challenge ahead to reach the government target for EVs [electric vehicles] to comprise 70% of new car sales by 2030,” the SMMT said.
The industry called for binding targets on charging infrastructure development and “long-term commitments to incentivise the purchase of zero emission capable vehicles to accelerate demand”.
The number of zero emission capable car models has tripled to more than 80 in the last five years, with about 200 more in the pipeline over the coming years. For customer demand to keep pace, the SMMT said at least 1.7m new on-street charging points need to be built by 2030, along with a long-term government commitment for EV purchasing incentives.
Overall, car registrations are down 39.7% in the year-to-date, roughly 600,000 units behind 2019. Registrations declined by 5.8% in August, with 87,000 vehicles purchased during what is traditionally the quietest month of the year for new car sales.
“The decline is disappointing, following some brief optimism in July,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “However, given August is typically one of the new car market’s quietest months, it’s important not to draw too many conclusions from these figures alone. With the all-important plate change month just around the corner, September is likely to provide a better barometer. As the nation takes steps to return to normality, protecting consumer confidence will be critical to driving a recovery.”
Want the best engineering stories delivered straight to your inbox? The Professional Engineering newsletter gives you vital updates on the most cutting-edge engineering and exciting new job opportunities. To sign up, click here.
Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.