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November new car market sees fleet sales down, EVs up

Date: 07 December 2021   |   Author: Sean Keywood

The UK new car market saw a decline in fleet registrations in November, but it was another good month for EV sales.

Overall, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the market grew year-on-year by 1.7% during the month - however, this is against figures from November 2020 when Covid-19 lockdown measures were in place, and down by 31.3% compared with the pre-pandemic average.

The figures also showed that fleet registrations were down by 24.7% year-on-year, although business registrations - classed as to fleets with fewer than 25 vehicles - were up by 11.2%, while private registrations were up by 41.7%.

Overall pure EV registrations more than doubled year-on-year, with 21,726 units sold - enough to account for 18.8% of the overall market.

Plug-in hybrids also saw strong growth, up by 39.7% for a 9.3% market share, while conventional hybrids were up by 8.3% for a 35.4% share.

Mild hybrid petrols and diesels were up by 2.2% and 9.7%, for a 10.7% and 4.5% market share respectively.

Pure petrol cars were down by 10.4%, though still led the overall market with a 43.3% share, while pure diesels plummeted again, by 62.7%, to just a 5.1% market share.

Commenting on the figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "What looks like a positive performance belies the underlying weakness of the market. Demand is there, with a slew of new, increasingly electrified, models launched but the global shortage of semiconductors continues to bedevil production and therefore new car registrations. 

"The industry is working flat out to overcome these issues and fulfil orders, but disruption is likely to last into next year, compounding the need for customers to place orders early. 

"The continued acceleration of electrified vehicle registrations is good for the industry, the consumer and the environment but, with the pace of public charging infrastructure struggling to keep up, we need swift action and binding public charger targets so that everyone can be part of the electric vehicle revolution, irrespective of where they live."

Hawes's concern about charging infrastructure was also reflected in comments by Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions managing director Jon Lawes, and Lex Autolease electrification propositions lead Meryem Brassington.

Lawes said: "The rise in popularity of electric vehicles continues to be welcome news for the industry as drivers are increasingly convinced by the compelling benefits of EVs.

"However, with a deteriorating ratio of public charge points to cars, there are concerns momentum towards zero emission motoring will be hampered in 2022 by insufficient public charging provision which is failing to keep pace with new EV registrations.

"Despite recent welcome government pledges to invest in charging infrastructure, the current shortfall and significant geographical disparities threaten to dampen driver confidence."

Brassington said: "While the continued [EV registrations] growth is encouraging, there's still a long way to go to achieve the UK's ambitious electrification plans, with charging infrastructure investment firmly at the top of the agenda. 

"The government's latest requirement to install charge points in new homes and buildings from next year is another welcome step in the right direction. By ensuring the product supply and supporting charge network is in place, we can continue to accelerate the transition towards a zero-emission future."