Vallance: It’s impossible for majority to buy electric car
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The UK new car market recorded its fifth consecutive month of growth in December, with an 18 percent increase to reach approximately 128,000 new registrations, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). December saw battery electric vehicles (BEVs) claim their largest-ever monthly market share, of an impressive 32.9 percent.
For 2022 as a whole, they comprised 16.6 percent of registrations, surpassing diesel for the first time to become the second most popular powertrain after petrol.
While private buyers accounted for more than half of all registrations, fleets and business buyers were responsible for the lion’s share of battery electric vehicles.
They accounted for two-thirds of all BEV registrations and 74.7 percent of the volume gain in 2022.
Despite underlying demand, pandemic-related global parts shortages saw overall registrations for the year fall -2 percent to 1.61 million, around 700,000 units below pre-Covid levels.
Mike Hawes, chief executive at the SMMT, said: “The automotive market remains adrift of its pre-pandemic performance but could well buck wider economic trends by delivering significant growth in 2023.
“To secure that growth – which is increasingly zero emission growth – Government must help all drivers go electric and compel others to invest more rapidly in nationwide charging infrastructure.
“Manufacturers’ innovation and commitment have helped EVs become the second most popular car type.
“However, for a nation aiming for electric mobility leadership, that must be matched with policies and investment that remove consumer uncertainty over switching, not least over where drivers can charge their vehicles.”
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Looking ahead, supply chains are beginning to stabilise and although the shortage of semiconductors is expected to ease, erratic supply will likely impact manufacturing throughout 2023.
The most recent market outlook, published in October 2022, anticipates around 1.8 million new car registrations in 2023, worth around £8.4billion in additional turnover.
Despite the optimism around EV sales, the report highlights how chargepoint provision remains a barrier for EV uptake.
The Government’s EV Infrastructure Strategy forecast that the UK would require between 300,000 and 720,000 chargepoints by 2030.
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Meeting just the lower number would still require more than 100 new chargers to be installed every single day. The current rate is around 23 per day.
Ben Nelmes, chief executive officer of New AutoMotive, commented on the car registration data, saying: “December’s figures are seriously impressive.
“This is the result of years of government support through consumer and fiscal incentives, as well as a clear long-term ambition to end sales of fossil-fuelled cars by 2035.”
“As the Government winds up grants and incentives for electric cars, it needs to be careful that these impressive numbers are not just a flash in the pan.
“Electric car registrations can go down as well as up. Ministers should enshrine their 2035 ambition in law by introducing a California-style Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) mandate, which provides the market with clarity about the UK’s journey to cleaner road transport.
“Delays to the UK’s plans to introduce a zero emissions vehicle mandate risk undermining the case for investment in gigafactories and charging infrastructure.
“A strong ZEV mandate will bring forward running cost savings for consumers that dwarf debates about fuel duty rates.
“Consumers have shown that they are ready to pass on petrol and embrace electric; now is the time for the government to show that it is on their side by setting ambitious targets that enable more people to access the benefits of going electric.”
Diesel and petrol’s share of the market continues to shrink, and the share of hybrids stagnated – a sign that demand for transitory hybrid technology has potentially peaked as drivers increasingly recognise the superiority of fully electric vehicles.
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