The latest forecast by the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows new plug-in vehicle uptake rates have accelerated so rapidly that more will join Britain’s roads in 2021 than during the whole of the last decade.
A total of 271,962 new battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) were registered between 2010 and 2019. However, the society now expects Britain to break its plug-in records, forecasting businesses and consumers will take up around 287,000 of the latest zero-emission capable cars during 2021 alone – around one in six new cars. Based on current forecasts, BEV registrations are expected to exceed those of diesel by the end of 2022.
The SMMT said the rise is remarkable given 2021 is expected to be a relatively weak year for new car registrations – about 30 per cent below the average recorded over the past decade – as the semiconductor shortage has reduced overall global car production.
According to the society, uptake rates of plug-in vehicles accelerated 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 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.
“Sustaining this surge and ensuring zero-emission mobility is accessible for all, will depend on encouraging all consumers to make the switch away from fossil fuels,” the SMMT said.
“The UK already plans to be the first major automotive market to end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars in 2030, but delivering this bold aim will require the continuation of purchase incentives to encourage those drivers currently unable or unwilling to make the transition to electrified motoring. Even more significant, however, is the need for turbocharged investment by both the public and private sector into the essential public charging infrastructure required by a growing plug-in vehicle fleet.”
The SMMT said to achieve net zero by the desired date, uptake rates must continue to grow. This requires ongoing incentives to help consumers make the switch as well as 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,” the society said.