The overall number of new car registrations increased as the new car market showed the first marked signs of recovery since late last year. Unfortunately, it was not just new electric registrations driving this growth - new petrol sales, alongside new hybrid sales, were also up, helping to drive the uptick of the market.
“It is great to see a growing number of people discovering the benefits of switching to an electric car - whether that’s the running cost savings, a better driving experience or doing their bit for the environment” said Ben Nelmes, Head of Policy and Research at New AutoMotive. “The fact that there continues to be long waiting times for new electric cars underscores how consumers and businesses are embracing electric cars. To sustain the UK's progress towards electric transport, the government needs to try harder to increase the supply of electric vehicles to the UK. The upcoming Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate will incentivise manufacturers to sell electric cars in the UK, ensuring sufficient EVs enter the country or are produced in the UK. Finalising the mandate's specifics as soon as possible is essential given that it’s scheduled to take effect in 2024. Any delay to it being implemented would jeopardise the transition's pace, and punish drivers who want to switch to electric vehicles doing their part to reduce emissions.”
New EV sales increased by 16 percent, while electric's market share dropped slightly year-on-year due to significant growth in petrol and hybrid sales. February saw the overall new car market grow by just under 20 percent, suggesting stability after a weak year. Despite some improvements, waiting times of up to 18 months persist for new electric cars, indicating high demand and limited supply. Meeting this demand is crucial for the UK's transition to electric transport, requiring a secure supply of EVs. The Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate, set to take effect in 2024, will incentivise manufacturers to sell electric cars, ensuring adequate supply and expediting the country's transition. Finalising the Mandate's details promptly is essential to avoid delays.
The Peterborough DVLA area (which includes Cambridgeshire) leads with an impressive 51 percent of all cars registered in the area in February being electric. Oxfordshire was a close second, at 50 percent, whilst Wimbledon, within the London DVLA region, was third with 48 percent.
Tesla regained dominance of the market in February, achieving the largest market share of any manufacturer and selling one in every five new electric cars registered in the UK. Audi came in second with just under 10 percent market share, doubling their electric vehicle sales from last February. Nissan, in 16th place, serves as a cautionary tale for other manufacturers as they only claimed 1.28 percent market share, despite their early success with the Nissan Leaf. The competition for the EV market is fierce, and companies must capitalise on their successes to become a dominant player.
It is evident from the data that electric cars have become a crucial and central part of the business for many reputable and large manufacturers. Among the top 9 manufacturers listed, including heavyweights like Audi, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz, at least one in four sales in February were for fully electric vehicles. Although the top three manufacturers, which are niche brand Genesis, Jaguar, and Porsche, have relatively low sales volumes, several high-volume manufacturers have successfully transitioned significant segments of their sales to electric. Mercedes-Benz, in fourth place, had 31 percent of its sales in February from an EV, while Volvo (5th place), Audi (6th place), and Kia (9th place) had just over one in four of their cars sold as electric. The fact that these high-volume manufacturers continue to electrify their cars shows that they are aware of the growing number of consumers who prefer electric vehicles as their first choice.
While February 2023 was not a bumper month for electric van uptake compared to February last year, the market for e-vans remained stable at 5 percent. E-vans are still the second most popular choice for consumers, behind Diesel. If electric is to make up ground on diesels dominance of the market, the government must do more to ensure motorists are empowered to make the switch and access the running cost savings e-van offer.
“In the highly competitive new van market, diesel models continue to hold a firm grip, while electric vans are making steady inroads” said Ciara Cook, Research and Policy Officer at New AutoMotive. “However, despite the emergence of new hybrid models in the UK market over the past year, consumers are overwhelmingly rejecting them. We can see this reflected in the low registration numbers, which clearly indicate that businesses are not interested in hybrid vans. The issue is that the upcoming Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate has a target of 50 percent of the van market being fully electric by 2030. However, with diesel vans no longer being sold after 2030, this target implies that the other 50 percent of the market will need to come from hybrids. This is incredibly concerning given that our data shows businesses aren’t interested in purchasing hybrids. There is a pressing need for the government to address this issue and ensure that the mandate accurately reflects the consumer demand for electric vans. To achieve this, the government needs to increase the targets for electric van uptake which will provide a vote of confidence in this technology. Government should also offer grants to help the uptake of electric vans, which will give van drivers - as well as businesses that don’t like hybrid technology - an easier route to make the switch.”
Just over 13,000 new diesel vans were registered in February, and these will be polluting UK roads for the next decade. This dominance demonstrates just how far there is to go to reach zero diesel registrations by 2030. There was a slight contraction in the market overall this month compared to February 2022, and unfortunately this contraction disproportionately affected new e-van registrations.. February 2022 was an unusually strong month for e-vans, and the year-on-year decrease was to be expected. However, it is still important that the government acts to ensure motorists are empowered to do the right thing and choose e-vans over their fossil fuel counterparts.
Nearly one in three new e-van sales in February came from Vauxhall, the company cementing themselves as an early leader in the electric segment of the van marking, and are proving very popular with business fleets. Coming in second is Maxus, another marque which is carving out a place for itself as a leader in the e-van market, with 17 percent of electric registrations belonging to the Chinese brand. The top five brands account for 84 per cent of electric vans sales this month, and those further down will need to act fast to ensure they gain traction in this market.
Maxus has occupied the top slot since New AutoMotive began Electric Van Count in June last year, and continues to be much further ahead in its electrification journey than its competitors. 64 percent of their vans this month were electric, a considerable jump from 25 percent of their vehicles being electric in February 2022. The next closest competitor is Peugeot at 17 percent of their registrations being electric, a drop from last year. At the bottom are Ford and Fiat with less than 1 percent of their registrations being electric.
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