The UK electric car market continued to see sustained growth in September with plug-in cars representing 1.8% of all new cars sales. With diesel sales plummeting, car buyers appear to be switching to plug-in vehicles in greater numbers than ever before.
Overall car registrations for September were down 9.3% compared to the same period in 2016, according to figures just released (Thursday 5th October) by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – SMMT.
Despite this overall decline, largely attributable to diesel’s continued demise, the plug-in car market has continued to grow and accounting for 1.8% market, close to the recent record of 2.2% set in July and August.
The number of cars eligible for the UK Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) increased by more than 24% compared to last year. Registrations of PiCG-eligible models for 2017 to date is still up 20% compared to the first nine months of 2016.
Year-to-date (YTD) registrations show a similar trend with pure EVs increasing by 37% and plug-in hybrid sales increasing by almost 15% to September. The conventional hybrid market also shows strong growth with petrol-electrics increasing sales by almost 47%; although diesel hybrids look to be falling out of favour with a drop in around a third.
The average number of plug-in cars registered during the first three quarters of 2017 is almost 4,000 per month, compared to 2016’s average of just over 3,000. The overall market share also sits at an average of 1.8% (averaged over 2017) and peaking at 2.2% over the summer, compared to 2016’s 1.4%.
In parallel with the continuing growth in demand for EVs, registrations of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars fell in September compared with this time last year; diesel sales fell 21.7% and even petrol cars fell by 1.2%. Only alternatively fuelled vehicles – which includes both plug-in models and conventional hybrids – saw an increase in registrations by an impressive 41%.
What is now abundantly clear, taking together the figures from this and previous months, is that buyer’s confidence in diesel has been dramatically hit by elements including the VW Emissions Scandal, and potential clean air zone and air quality plans.
If the car industry is to recover its sales figures, it will need to make significant investments in all types of alternatively fuelled models to replace the falling revenues due to diesel’s decline. Some companies are already positioned to take advantage of the change in buyer preferences and will seize the market opportunity offered by plug-in hybrids and fully electric models.