Electric vehicles are continuing to gain ground in the UK, according to recent statistics released by Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). For the month of March, battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids accounted for 14 percent of all automobile sales, up from 7.3 percent for the same period last year. This represents the best ever sales month for electric vehicles in the UK.
This growth has come despite the effect of the lockdown imposed due to the Covid-19 virus. The month of March however is traditionally the busiest for car dealers.
Buyers snapped up 31,779 battery electric vehicles in total, during the first quarter of the year, for 7.5% share of all vehicles sold. This represented a huge 74.1 percent increase over figures for the same period in 2020. Interestingly, most of the sales came in the month of March, when 22,003 BEVs were moved, representing 69 percent. PHEV sold 17,000. The number of models available for buyers to choose from climbed to 116, from 72 for the same period last year.
Overall, the effects of the lockdown are still apparent, as the total number of vehicles sold was significantly down compared to pre-Covid figures. Only 284,000 were sold, which was 37% less than the average for the years from 2010 to 2019. It has been estimated that the UK auto industry suffered £22.2bn loss in sales in the twelve months ending March 2021. While sellers found novel ways to sell cars, showrooms that were closed proved to be difficult to work around.
Figures for April are expected to be better due to pent up demand, as showrooms are expected to open up to visitors again by April 12th in England, where most of the sales occur. This view is shared by Mike Hawes, chief executive at SSMT, who said; “We know we will see record-breaking growth next month given April 2020 was a washout, but a strong and sustainable market is possible if customers are attracted to the choice and competitive offer the industry is able to provide within the safest of showroom environments,”
The growth in the sales of electric vehicles however is not surprising, as more car makers release electric models, with some announcing plans to make more investments in or completely switch to electric vehicles. Also noteworthy is the impending federal ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles in the nation by 2030. Even before the deadline, EVs are likely to outsell ICEs in the UK by 2025.