SMMT: More new plug-in vehicles in 2021 than during whole of last decade
New plug-in vehicle uptake rates have accelerated so rapidly that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) forecasts more of these joining Britain’s roads in 2021 than during the whole of the last decade. It expects that around 287,000 zero-emission cars will be added to the UK car parc this year, a figure equalling around one-sixth of all new cars. A total of just 271,962 new battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles (BEVs & PHEVs) were registered between 2010 and 2019. Furthermore, current forecasts suggest that BEV registrations will exceed those of diesel by the end of 2022.
The SMMT considers this rise even more remarkable when considering expectations that 2021 will be a relatively weak year for new car registrations, with the 1.66 million registrations forecast for 2021 being approximately 30 per cent below the average recorded over the past decade. Although the semiconductor shortage has reduced overall global car production, manufacturers have done all they can to ensure the availability of as many plug-in vehicles as possible.
Uptake rates of plug-in vehicles began to accelerate dramatically during 2020, as the billions of pounds invested by manufacturers in new technology resulted in the widest ever choice of zero emission-capable cars. More than a quarter of all car models available in the UK can now be plugged in. Businesses have been particularly incentivised to invest in plug-in cars thanks to a range of tax breaks and grants, meaning around two in every three new BEV registrations this year have been for large fleets.
Incentives & investment required
Sustaining this sales surge and ensuring accessible zero-emission mobility for all will depend on encouraging consumers to make the switch away from fossil fuels. The SMMT opines that although the UK already plans to be the first major automotive market to end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars in 2030, delivering this bold aim will require the continuation of purchase incentives to encourage drivers who are currently unable or unwilling to make the transition to electrified motoring. More significant for the trade association is a need for turbocharged public and private sector investment into the essential public charging infrastructure that a growing plug-in vehicle fleet requires.
“As Britain hosts COP26 and seeks to align the world in committing to achieving net zero and limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, our latest outlook shows the UK experiencing a surge in plug-in vehicle uptake,” says Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. “Massive investment by industry as well as long standing government incentives have seen us go from just 188 new plug-in cars in 2010, to almost 300,000 in 2021.
“To achieve net zero by the desired date, however, uptake rates must continue to grow. This requires ongoing incentives to help consumers make the switch and significant investment in public charging infrastructure. Backed by the ingenuity and innovation of the automotive sector, we can then deliver zero-emission mobility that is accessible and affordable for all.”