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Supply chain issues see new car sales slump in May

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

New UK car registrations fell -20.6% to 124,394 units in the second weakest May since 1992, after the 2020 pandemic-hit market, as supply shortages continued to hamper new purchases and the fulfilment of existing orders, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The decline, compared with the first full month of reopened showrooms in May last year, demonstrates the impact of continued global supply chain disruptions, with the market -32.3% below the 2019 pre-pandemic level despite strong order books.

While private consumer purchases fell -10.3%, their market share increased year-on-year by 6.1 percentage points to 53.2%, in part due to manufacturers striving to fulfil deliveries – particularly of electric vehicles – to private buyers, with the commensurate effect on the business and large fleet sectors, which now comprise 46.8% of the market.

Despite the myriad challenges affecting the industry and a high level of market distortion due to restricted supply of all vehicle types and technologies, manufacturers have worked hard to sustain progress towards the decarbonisation of road transport and the delivery of UK’s ambitious net zero targets. May saw registrations of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) rise by 17.7%, representing one in eight new cars joining the road last month. Plug-in hybrids declined -25.5%, while hybrids were up 12.0%, meaning deliveries of electrified vehicles accounted for three in 10 new cars.

Superminis continued to be the most sought-after segment by British motorists, making up 32.7% of registrations in the month, despite their registrations falling -16.4% to 40,667 units, followed by dual purpose, which accounted for 28.9% of the market even after a -14.1% fall in volumes. The small volume luxury car segment was the only area of growth, up 16.8%, to 369 units.

The supply chain challenge has contributed to an overall market decline in the year to date of -8.7%, equivalent to 62,724 fewer units. This is -40.6% below the five-year average recorded from January to May, as the new car market continues to struggle to emerge from the impact of the pandemic.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “In yet another challenging month for the new car market, the industry continues to battle ongoing global parts shortages, with growing battery electric vehicle uptake one of the few bright spots. To continue this momentum and drive a robust mass market for these vehicles, we need to ensure every buyer has the confidence to go electric. This requires an acceleration in the rollout of accessible charging infrastructure to match the increasing number of plug-in vehicles, as well as incentives for the purchase of new, cleaner and greener cars.

“Delivering on Net Zero means renewing the vehicles on our roads at pace but, with rising inflation and a squeeze on household incomes, this will be increasingly difficult unless businesses and private buyers have the confidence and encouragement to do so.”

SMMT calls for binding targets for chargepoint rollout as demand for EVs surges

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has published a seven-point plan calling for binding targets regarding the rollout of charging infrastructure across the UK.

This nationally coordinated plan has been put forward to ensure every driver in Britain can benefit from an EV charging network that is affordable, available, and accessible

Charging companies like Osprey are committed to a rapid deployment of fast charging hubs, using the latest 75kW chargers – which can give most cars up to 100 miles of range on 10 minutes. The company is committed to installing over 150 of these hubs by 2025.

“Retail parks are prime locations for EV charging, allowing drivers to top up their EVs while making use of the retail facilities on site,” said Patrick Sherriff, business development director at Osprey Charging.

Head on over to WhichEV to read the full story.

Grey is the colour… again!

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

British drivers doubled down on their preference for monochrome cars in 2021, with grey increasing its dominance as the UK’s favourite new car colour for the fourth year in a row, according to figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). During a year of pandemic-related disruptions impacting total new car registrations, 408,155 grey cars were sold, up 2.8% and accounting for a quarter (24.8%) of the market.

Black, the most popular car paint in Britain from 2009 to 2012, wrapped 20.5% of passenger cars, while white was in third place (17.2%), meaning UK drivers were most likely to choose a monochrome car for the 11th year running. More than six in 10 (62.4%) of all new cars joining British roads in 2021 were painted in one of these shades, although blue edged closer to the top three, increasing its sales (1.4%) for the first time in five years and trailing just 2,638 units behind white.

The rest of the top 10 remained largely unchanged from 2020, although green overtook orange to gain seventh place, cladding 17,927 cars. Sales of green cars rose for the first time since 2015, with 24.0% more buyers opting for the colour than in the previous year.

A record number of drivers also opted for ‘green’ under the bonnet, with battery electric and plug-in cars accounting for more than one in six registrations – up from around one in 10 in 2020 and one in 30 in 2019. However, whether battery electric, plug-in hybrid, hybrid, petrol or diesel, grey was the colour of choice across all fuel types.

White was the most popular shade for mini-sized and sports cars, while larger dual purpose, luxury saloons and executive cars were, as usual, most likely to be black.

At the niche end of the colour palette, gold, yellow and turquoise were the fastest growing colours, with gold more than tripling its appeal (up 231.8%), yellow up by a third (31.3%) and turquoise up by a fifth (19.2%), although together they accounted for less than one percent of the market (0.9%).

SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, said: “2021 was anything but normal, but British drivers stuck to their familiar favourites of grey, black and white cars. But while last year’s new cars might share the same shades as previous years, under the bonnet there has been a real shift, with one in six buyers choosing to go green.

“With car registrations still low compared to pre- pandemic, helping even more drivers move to greener cars – whatever the actual colour – has never been more important. Incentives are helping move the market and should continue, but the speed of this shift to electric must be matched by an acceleration in the pace of charging infrastructure investment. Drivers should expect to be able to recharge irrespective of wherever they live, work or visit.”

A non-monochrome colour has not been among the UK’s overall top three since blue in 2010, although it was second most popular colour amongst Welsh and Northern Irish new car buyers. Grey was the top colour in every British nation last year, but more so in England (25.3%), closely followed by Scotland (22.9%), Wales (22.8%), and Northern Ireland (21.7%).

Counties sporting bright-coloured cars included Bedfordshire, the most likely place to see a new pink car, with 66 registrations, while Greater London and Buckinghamshire had the highest numbers of green and turquoise motors, with 1,263 and 238 registrations respectively. Orange was the new black in the West Midlands, where tangerine-tinted cars accounted for 1,156 registrations, the highest in any UK region.

Scotland was, however, the least likely place to spot a new maroon car, as none were sold in the country. In fact, just 12 buyers across the whole of the UK specified their new car in the colour – the lowest number since 1997.

Consumer preference for grey, which comes in many varying shades, can be attributed to a wide range of reasons; it can be a sleek and deeper tone than other shades, is well-suited to black trims and darker wheels and offers an attractive compromise between the also-popular black and white, with wider resale appeal than brightly coloured cars, so a potentially ‘safer’ choice, especially as it reduces the visibility of dirt more than the other shades.

COVID stalls 2021 UK new car market but EV sales strong

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

2021 new car registrations grew by just 1% on a pandemic-ravaged 2020, as 1.65 million new cars entered the UK market, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The figures underline the ongoing impact of Covid and the semiconductor shortage on the industry, with the market down -28.7% on pre-pandemic 2019, representing the second worst year since 1992.

There was some good news, however, with 2021 the most successful year in history for electric vehicle uptake as more new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were registered than over the previous five years combined.3  190,727 new BEVs joined Britain’s roads, along with 114,554 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), meaning 18.5% of all new cars registered in 2021 can be plugged in. This is in addition to the 147,246 hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) registered which took a further 8.9% market share in a bumper year for electrified car registrations, with 27.5% of the total market now electrified in some form.

Following billions of pounds of investment into new technology by manufacturers, more than 40% of models are now available as plug-ins. Indeed, the shift in customer preference for these new technologies continues apace, with December seeing BEVs take a record market share in a non-locked down trading month, accounting for 25.5% of all new registrations.

The UK finished 2021 as the third largest European market for new car registrations but the second largest by volume for plug-in vehicles and the second largest for BEVs. It is only in ninth position overall, however, in Europe for BEVs by market share, underlining the progress still to be made, despite the UK having among the most ambitious targets of all major markets with the end of sale of new petrol and diesel cars scheduled for 2030.

Recent announcements, including cuts to both purchase incentives and grants for home chargers, put the achievement of industry’s and government’s net zero ambitions at risk. Furthermore, the slow pace of growth in on-street public charging – where, on average, 16 cars potentially share one standard on-street charger – could put the brake on EV demand and undermine the UK’s attractiveness as a place to sell electric cars.4

Petrol-powered vehicles, including mild hybrids (MHEVs), remain Britain’s most popular powertrain, accounting for 58.3% of all new cars registered in 2021, with diesel-powered cars including MHEVs making up 14.2% of the market, followed by BEVs at 11.6%, HEVs at 8.9% and PHEVs at 7.0%.

Registrations by private buyers increased by a moderate 7.4%, while those by businesses and large fleets fell by -4.4% and -4.7% respectively, in part due to supply shortages. Superminis remained Britain’s most popular cars, with 514,024 registrations, followed by the lower medium (449,631) and dual purpose (443,632) segments.

Looking ahead, the latest forecast for 2022 – published in October, before the rise of the Omicron variant – is for 1.96 million new car registrations.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “It’s been another desperately disappointing year for the car industry as Covid continues to cast a pall over any recovery. Manufacturers continue to battle myriad challenges, with tougher trading arrangements, accelerating technology shifts and, above all, the global semiconductor shortage which is decimating supply.

“Despite the challenges, the undeniable bright spot is the growth in electric car uptake. A record-breaking year for the cleanest, greenest vehicles is testament to the investment made by the industry over the past decade and the inherent attractiveness of the technology.  The models are there, with two of every five new car models now able to be plugged in, drivers have the widest choice ever and industry is working hard to overcome Covid-related supply constraints.

“The biggest obstacle to our shared net zero ambitions is not product availability, however, but cost and charging infrastructure. Recent cuts to incentives and home charging grants should be reversed and we need to boost the roll out of public on-street charging with mandated targets, providing every driver, wherever they live, with the assurance they can charge where they want and when they want.”

EV sales skyrocket: More EVs registered in 2021 than previous decade

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

By Ben Hubbard, WhichEV

According to the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), more electric vehicles will be registered in 2021, than in the whole of the previous decade.

Between 2010 and 2019, a total of 271,962 BEVs and PHEVs were registered, while in 2021 alone the SMMT forecasts that closer to 300,000 of the latest plug-in vehicles will be sold.

The same forecast also predicts that BEV registrations will outsell diesel cars by the end of next year.

So far this year, plug-in vehicles account for 16.6% of all new car registrations and hybrid EVs account for 9.1% meaning that more than a quarter of all new cars sold are now electrified.

“Our latest outlook shows the UK experiencing a surge in plug-in vehicle uptake. Massive investment by industry as well as longstanding government incentives have seen us go from just 188 new plug-in cars in 2010, to almost 300,000 in 2021,” says SMMT’s chief executive Mike Hawes.

This increase in interest in electric vehicles comes against a backdrop where overall car registrations plummeted in October.

Overall, new car registrations last month fell by -24.6% to 106,265 units compared to October 2020, making this the worst October month since 1991.

Most of this decline was driven by large fleets as their demand fell by -40.4% whereas private decline was just -3.3%.

A detailed analysis is available over on WhichEV… https://www.whichev.net/2021/11/11/plug-in-vehicle-registrations-in-2021-on-track-to-exceed-whole-of-last-decade-despite-overall-market-decline/

At the same time, a damning new report shows that for every 52 plug-in cars registered in 2021, just a single public charger was installed.

While the UK government has pledged £620m of zero-emission grants in its Net Zero strategy, and the Government’s Rapid Charging Fund is investing £950m to expand the number of rapid and ultra-rapid charge points, this is insufficient to keep up with consumer demand.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Recent Government funding for infrastructure was welcome but more private sector investment in public charge points is needed across the country. The UK therefore needs a framework of regulation that makes it easier to fund, build and operate electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Consequently, we need commensurate and binding targets for charge point rollout and reliability so that all those without a driveway or designated parking can be confident of finding a convenient charger, and one that works.”

At the end of 2019, 11 BEVs and PHEVs shared a public charging point on average, but by the end of 2020, that ratio had dropped to one charger for every 16 plug-ins.

While many people making the switch to an EV will be able to charge their car at home, on a driveway or designated parking bay, there are still those that rely on on-street parking, and so charging infrastructure has to cater for all needs if we are to achieve net-zero.

Britain’s ratio of plug-in vehicles on the road to standard public charge points is now one of the worst among the top 10 global electric vehicle markets at 16:1 in 2020.

Some of the countries offering EV drivers better charging coverage, include South Korea (3:1), the Netherlands (5:1), China (9:1), France (10:1), Belgium and Japan (both 13:1).

There are also regional disparities in the number of charge points around the UK. London has the best ratio at 10:1 while the east of England has the worst at 49:1.

Automated vehicles subject to new marketing guidelines

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The automotive industry has committed to a new set of guiding principles for marketing automated vehicles, published by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Developed and agreed by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles’ AV-DRiVE Group, the principles provide an outline for responsible advertising and communication relating to automated vehicles and their capabilities.

The industry-led initiative will ensure consumers receive consistent and clear information regarding automated driving features, ahead of their expected introduction to British roads in 2022.

The guiding principles state that:

  1. An automated driving feature must be described sufficiently clearly so as not to mislead, including setting out the circumstances in which that feature can function.
  2. An automated driving feature must be described sufficiently clearly so that it is distinguished from an assisted driving feature.
  3. Where both automated driving and assisted driving features are described, they must be clearly distinguished from each other.
  4. An assisted driving feature should not be described in a way that could convey the impression that it is an automated driving feature.
  5. The name of an automated or assisted driving feature must not mislead by conveying that it is the other – ancillary words may be necessary to avoid confusion – for example for an assisted driving feature, by making it clear that the driver must be in control at all times.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “The UK is at the forefront of the introduction of automated vehicles, which has tremendous potential to save lives, improve mobility for all and drive economic growth. It is essential that this revolutionary technology is marketed accurately and responsibly, and we are delighted to have brought together industry, government and other key stakeholders to develop a series of guiding principles that will ensure consumers will have clarity and confidence over their capabilities from when these advanced vehicles first make their way into showrooms.”

Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said: “Self-driving vehicles have the potential to make journeys safer, greener and more accessible for all, which is why we want to make the UK the best place to trial, develop and deploy their technology, to ensure we are among the first to realise their benefits.

“It is essential that industry and stakeholders are clear on their responsibilities and developed in partnership with Government, motoring and road safety groups, the SMMT’s Guiding Principles are an important step to promote the safe use of automated technologies in the UK.”

Matthew Avery, Director of Research, Thatcham Research, commented: “These guiding principles are a key milestone in ensuring there is no confusion around the capabilities of assisted driving systems and future automated systems, as well as the responsibilities of the drivers using them. We have long advocated consistency of terminology. There are two clear states – a vehicle is either assisted with a driver being supported by technology or automated where the technology is effectively and safely replacing the driver. We urge manufacturers now to use simple marketing that does not over promise functionality and the key is for them to be delivered consistently across all marketing material, as well as through effective dealership education and their subsequent conversations and engagement with consumers.”

UK van sales down 4.6% in October

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The light commercial vehicle (LCV) market declined marginally by -4.6%, in October, with 27,420 vans registered according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Despite this representing the second consecutive month of decline – albeit not as steep a fall as in September – the sector remains 2.3% up on the five-year pre-pandemic average for the month of October, with 2021 proving to be a strong year for LCV sales to date.1

Over the course of the month registrations of heavier vans, which weigh more than 2.5 tonnes and comprise the majority of the LCV market, fell by -8.9%. Pickups and vans weighing between 2.0-2.5 tonnes also declined by -16.9% and -16.6% respectively.

There was some good news, however, with registrations of 4x4s – a typically small market which has been buoyed by new models – and vans weighing less than 2.0 tonnes doubling, with increases of 114.7% and 100.5% respectively.

Year-to-date, registrations of LCVs have increased by 24.4%, to 294,656 units, compared to 2020 when Covid related issues were more widely felt.2 But despite the sector seeing a rebound in registrations in 2021, the market still remains -5.2% short of the pre-pandemic five-year average, equating to 16,026 less vans being sold, primarily due to the global shortage of semiconductors.3

As a result of the ongoing challenges facing the sector, SMMT has downgraded it’s outlook for the LCV market by over 20,000, to 340,000 units registered in 2021. While this remains higher than 2020, it represents a net decline against 2019 sales, with the market not expected to recover back above that level until 2023.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “While it’s disappointing to see the number of new vans registered during October decline, demand has remained strong over the course of the year. The commercial vehicle sector, however, is not immune to the challenges faced by the industry as a whole, most notably the semiconductor shortage. Manufacturers are working hard to fulfil orders to ensure fleets can continue to be renewed and the latest models, including zero emission products, hit UK roads.”

 

SMMT calls for vehicle decarbonisation plans before government bans

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on government to work with industry to develop a plan that facilitates the transition to zero emission HGVs, before it commits an end of sale date for conventionally fuelled trucks.

All of Europe’s major truck manufacturers have agreed that new HGVs will be fossil fuel-free by 2040, and are investing billions in new powertrains to replace diesel, the most commonly used HGV fuel.

However, at present there is no clear technology that can provide full zero emission operations for all weights and uses of HGVs.

The need to support powertrain research and infrastructure development has been underlined by a new report, Fuelling the Fleet: Delivering Commercial Vehicle Decarbonisation. SMMT analysis has revealed that the commercial, technological and operational barriers currently associated with new technologies such as batteries and hydrogen meant that in 2020, only 0.2% of HGVs were alternatively fuelled – contrasted with cars, which reached this proportion in 2007.

Battery electric van usage, meanwhile, reached 0.3% in 2020 – the same proportion as cars in 2019. Uptake rates for electric vans have continued to grow rapidly, reflecting how battery power can effectively replace fossil fuels in this vehicle class, but just 2.6% of new vans registered between January and July 2021 were battery electric vehicles (BEVs), compared to 8.2% of cars.

Established manufacturers have already brought a range of fossil fuel-free HGVs and vans to market, while several new players have also entered the market with dedicated zero-emission commercial vehicle portfolios. With new technology comes new opportunities and the UK, as a manufacturer, of vans, trucks and other HGVs must accelerate the transition to fossil fuel free commercial vehicles and their component parts.

To achieve this, the SMMT says the government should develop a roadmap that supports UK manufacturers and the supply chain, creating a strong domestic market and helping companies seize the opportunities that emerge.

Specifically, it says the UK needs a dedicated public HGV charging network, as only operators who can afford to invest in expensive depot infrastructure and operate on a back to base model can currently make the switch. This network needs to be rolled out urgently – ACEA forecasts that by 2030, the UK will need 8,200 public HGV charging points, equivalent to more than two new charge points opening every single day until the end of the decade. Alternative technological solutions, such as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, face an even tougher challenge with only 11 refuelling locations across the country.

Decarbonising the commercial vehicle sector will therefore need more support from government and other stakeholders outside the automotive industry. New technologies need new skills, so the workforce that maintains these essential vehicles must have access and support for the training courses essential to high voltage and other system work. Above all, the industry needs a stable, long-term regulatory and fiscal strategy to deliver a vibrant zero emission HGV market so that manufacturers and operators can confidently plan and prepare for the future.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “The industry is committed to be fossil fuel free, but there is not yet a clear technology path for every weight class and every use case. Before it sets a deadline for the sector, the government must support the technological development and market proposition and provide the right framework, so hauliers don’t defer their decarbonising decision to the last minute. Plans before bans is the key.

“Vans face fewer obstacles in this decarbonisation journey than HGVs but adoption rates remain low, driven by the lack of charging points and higher operating costs relative to diesel. The new models are there, with many more coming, but without investment in incentives and infrastructure, the commercial vehicle sector will struggle to meet our shared ambition to reach net zero.”

Exciting executive EV choices coming soon

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By James Morris, Editor, WhichEV

Roll the clock back 10 years and the Nissan Leaf was one of the only electric cars available in the market, with a range around 100 miles and very few places you could get a charge. The EV landscape looks very different in 2021.

To help the specialist media get an idea of what is coming, the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) recently held its annual press event at the Millbrook Proving Ground near Milton Keynes. WhichEV spent the day looking at some of the executive car options that fleet managers can now choose from.

Millbrook itself is secreted among the trees and you don’t really notice it until you hit the large exterior security gates. Access is strictly controlled, as the Proving Ground is used by manufacturers keen to get real-world test data on their up-coming products. There are three ‘tracks’, to help simulate all possible driving conditions.

The Race Track

This is an American-style oval, with heavy banking on the outside edge – so you can take fast cars to the max with minimum risk.

Town Track

Simulates the standard roads that we all drive around every day, including traffic lights and give-way signs. Let’s you examine visibility and manoeuvrability on tighter streets.

Hill Track

Starting with long, slow slopes, this track quickly builds to the most demanding combination of extreme elevation and tight turns under pressure you can imagine. Easy to believe that it might be based on the toughest country roads in Wales.

With limited time and over 100 cars on show, its important to prioritise. WhichEV’s focus was the latest Porsche Taycan, a new model from Audi and a look at the much-anticipated Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Porsche Taycan RWD

One of the only EVs to match Tesla for performance, Porsche has now launched a Taycan (pictured, above) with rear wheel drive that will hit 60mph in just over 5 seconds, with a top speed of 143mph and a WLTP range of 268 miles – all courtesy of a 79kWh battery. Most important? There are already leasing deals around the £585 mark for low-mileage business users. When combined with the 1% BiK right now, the performance and prestige of the badge will make the RWD version of the Taycan popular with executives.

Audi e-tron GT

With business leases starting a smidgeon under the £700 mark, Audi’s latest EV executive shares around 40% of its genetic profile with the Taycan – but with a softer ride and more luxurious interior. It sports a larger battery than the Porsche and can reach 60mph over a second quicker with a top speed of 152 for your favourite German autobahns. The WLTP is just over 300 miles and – at its peak – the GT will pick up 520 miles of range per hour of charge – topping out at 270kW DC.

Hyundai Ioni5 5

The latest iteration of Hyundai’s popular EV series comes with a 62kWh battery and 249 mile range – which doesn’t seem that special. However, the car is able to utilise a 175kW DC charger and pick up a peak of 450 miles per hour of charge. That’s enough to take you from ‘near empty’ to 80% in less than 20 minutes – which is very appealing for those who regularly drive long distances. Business leases for those using it more casually, will start around the £325 mark. Accelerating to 60 in around 8.5 seconds is good compared to fossil fuel cars, but fairly average for an EV. The top speed of 115mph is enough to lose your license on most European roads.

For all of the latest EV news and reviews, please check www.WhichEV.net.

Business confidence ‘drives cautious recovery’ in car registrations

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

With the year’s first full month of showroom openings, new car registrations in May reached 156,737 units, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The total represents an almost eightfold increase on the same month last year, but is down -14.7% on pre-pandemic May 2019, and -13.2% on the 10-year May average.

Uptake was in line with the most recent industry outlook, published in April, which sees the sector anticipating around 1.86 million registrations by the end of the year – with 723,845 achieved so far.

Against a more positive economic backdrop – including OECD forecasting a 7.2% increase in UK GDP during 2021 – fleet registrations grew more than twice as fast as private purchases in May.3 Large fleets accounted for 50.7% of all new vehicles hitting the road, demonstrating improving business confidence compared to the same month last year.

In terms of segments, dual purpose vehicles saw a small decline in market share in the month, down to 26.7%, leapfrogged by lower medium cars which rose to 27.8%. Superminis remained Britain’s most popular car choice, with a 31.1% share.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) market share declined from 12.0% a year ago to 8.4% in the past month, although the May 2020 performance was distorted by lockdowns when new cars could only be purchased through click and collect or delivery, giving rise to variable purchasing patterns.

Looking more broadly across 2021, plug-in vehicles now comprise 13.8% of new car registrations, up from 7.2% a year earlier, with the most rapid growth seen in plug-in hybrid (PHEV) derivatives. Pure petrol and mild hybrid petrol cars so far account for 60.4% of registrations, while pure diesel and mild hybrid diesels took a 18.0% share year to date, compared to 64.6% and 22.4% last year.

Meanwhile, total registrations for 2021 sit at 296,448 fewer units, or -29.1% less, than the average recorded across January to May during the last decade, evidence of the scale of the recovery still needed given the impact of Covid on the market.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “With dealerships back open and a brighter, sunnier, economic outlook, May’s registrations are as good as could reasonably be expected. Increased business confidence is driving the recovery, something that needs to be maintained and translated in private consumer demand as the economy emerges from pandemic support measures. Demand for electrified vehicles is helping encourage people into showrooms, but for these technologies to surpass their fossil-fuelled equivalents, a long term strategy for market transition and infrastructure investment is required.”

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