EVs show strong growth as industry calls for more support

The UK electric car market continues to perform well ahead of overall sales, as pure-electric registrations for February topped the 2,500 mark, and more than 2,000 PHEVs were sold.

According to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), growth for pure-EVs is an exceptional 243% compared to last year, and PHEVs saw a healthy increase over February 2019 at +50%.

SMMT EVs Feb 2020

On top of this, the industry is calling for further support for the burgeoning market, asking the Chancellor to help drivers go electric by removing VAT from electric models. Calculations show that this would boost sales to nearly one million units over the next five years.

February's performance for plug-in models continues what has been a very encouraging trend in recent months. Combined market share for electric vehicles is 5.7% of total new car sales in February - with pure-EVs at 3.2% and PHEVs at 2.6%. Last year's shares were 0.9% and 1.7% respectively.

SMMT Feb 2020

There has been a significant step forward since October last year in terms of electric market share. Before that point, typical share was around the 2.5%-3% mark. October's figure was higher than 4%, and since then we haven't seen EV market share drop below 5%. In fact, February's share is the lowest for the last four months by 0.1%.

A combined 4,566 plug-in cars were registered in February 2020, which is 117% up on last year's figures. This is despite an overall market that is -2.9% for the month. February is also traditionally a quiet month in terms of sales, as the new registration plate arrive in March.

Although the electric car market is still relatively small, it has seen months of robust figures against a market that is declining. Diesel figures are down 27% and petrol -7%. Conventional hybrids saw 72% growth, whilst mild hybrids are the only other huge growth markets at 468% for diesel-based models and 188% for petrols. This is largely because increasing numbers of conventional petrol and diesel engines are being replaced in car line-ups with mild hybrid versions.

SMMT figures Feb 2020

Table courtesy of SMMT

With a number of pure-electric cars coming online in the UK in recent months, and more set to join the available options in months to come, the outlook looks similarly rosy. There is certainly a case of demand outstripping supply for a number of key EV models, and as greater numbers are made, the market share and outright sales figures are only going to continue to rise.

This outlook is tempered a little by the impact of coronavirus, particularly in China where large areas of industry have been shut down. With China a huge manufacturer of EV batteries, there is expectation that this will have a knock-on effect on the number of electric vehicles being made.

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Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:5th Mar 2020

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