One millionth plug-in car registered in the UK

September showed to be a strong month for electric vehicles (EVs) with the one millionth plug-in car registered in the UK.

This year alone represents a quarter of total plug-in EVs registered, according to the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

While battery electric vehicles (BEVs) registered its second highest monthly volume in history with 38,116 units, a 16.5% rise year-over-year (YoY).

The strong performance of BEVs registrations in September comes after recent figures from RAC Foundation, released this week, showed that pure the number of BEVs sales exceeded half a million at the end of June 2022.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “September has seen Britain’s millionth electric car reach the road – an important milestone in the shift to zero emission mobility. Battery electric vehicles make up but a small fraction of cars on the road, so we need to ensure every lever is pulled to encourage motorists to make the shift if our green goals are to be met.”

Moreover, the sale of hybrid vehicles has grown by 16.5% YoY to 29,088 units in September 2022, however sales of all types of vehicles remain down this year by 8.2%.

Despite strong sales in September – the second biggest month of the year according to SMMT – the industry is still far away from pre-pandemic levels as it continues to battle supply issues and work to fulfil a backlog of orders.

Kim Royds, EV director at British Gas, said: “The continued uptake of EVs is dependent on government and policy makers ensuring the rollout of the charging network is done properly. This means focusing on accessibility, convenience for users, and ensuring the latest technology – including super-fast chargers – is put in place to build a network fit for future purpose.”

Meanwhile, data from New Automotive shows sales of full EVs represented 17% of all UK car sales in September, despite a 20% decrease year-over-year.

Both hybrids and full EVs accounted for almost half of total sales, with 28,297 full EVs registered in September and 46,507 hybrids.

The ongoing cost of living crisis has taken a toll on the new car market which has seen its yearly sales numbers dip lower than 2020, “when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak”, according to Ben Nelmes, co-founder and head of policy at New Automotive.

“Any drop in sales of EVs makes it harder for the UK to meet its carbon budgets and slows efforts to reduce our reliance on expensive, imported fuels. It is welcome to see that EV sales are holding up so well given the current headwinds in the market,” said Nelmes.

Following last month’s strong numbers, BMW continues to show strong sales in September by more than doubling its total EV output from last year, from 1,003 EV in September 2021 to 2,212 in September 2022.

Almost one in three EVs sold in September came from Tesla who made a big delivery last month – which usually happens every three to four months, according to New AutoMotive – with more than 8,600 cars registered.

For drivers able to charge their EV at home (on a standard variable tariff), it remains 40% cheaper to run per mile compared to petrol and diesel alternatives.

However, public charging prices have increased lately with a 42% cost increase in four months to an average of 63.29p/kWh, according to data from RAC Charge Watch.

Several EV charging supplier have increased its prices in September, with GRIDSERVE increasing its high-power EV charging costs to 66p/kWh and Osprey Charging crossing the £1/kWh threshold for its rapid EV charging network, among others.

“While the recent turbulence in financial markets is unlikely to have had much impact on September’s sales figures, they may prove to be an issue going forwards as the cost of financing the purchase of a new car increases with interest rates,” said Nelmes, adding that consumers and businesses might be delaying or rethinking large purchases and investments.

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