One in six new car registrations in 2021 was a plug-in, electrified vehicle, compared with one in 10 the previous year, creating a growing chasm between electric vehicle adoption and the infrastructure with which to power EVs.
New data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed that 305,000 plug-in vehicles (electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids) were sold last year, accounting for 18.6% of overall market share. Including non-plug-in hybrids, 27.5% of the market is now electrified. In 2020, electrified cars had a market share of 17%.
Electric vehicles accounted for 11.6% of the market, or 190,727 units. It means that more EVs were registered last year than over the previous five years combined.
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SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said: “It’s very good news on the plug-in front but we can’t afford to be complacent. Other competitor markets are growing just as quickly, and sometimes even faster than us.
“There’s a long way to go to reach net zero. Around one in 100 vehicles on the road is a plug-in. The government’s ambition is that, by 2030, we need to get that to one in three.”
He continued: “It shows how much we need to accelerate sales. It’s not by lack of want from the manufacturers. There are now 140 plug-in vehicles available with another 47 expected this year.
“The biggest obstacle to our shared net zero ambitions is not product availability 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.
“With the increase in EV sales and much slower increase in provision of on-street charging, the gap is getting worse.”
Overall market flat
The overall car market has improved fractionally over 2020, but only by 1% or 16,117 units. In 2020, 1.63 million cars were sold, while in 2021 it was 1.65 million.
Hawes commented: “2020 was the worst year for car sales since 1992 - 2021 is the second worst year since 1992. It is not a fabulous picture by any shape or form.”
He added: “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.