More plug-in vehicles will hit British roads in 2021 than during the whole of the last decade, according to the latest forecast from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Between 2010 and 2019, a total of 271,962 new BEVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) were registered in the UK. This year alone, SMMT says one in six new cars will be zero-emission capable, equivalent to around 287,000 vehicles.

Furthermore, SMMT says uptake rates of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have accelerated so rapidly that they will outsell conventional diesel and mild-hybrid diesel cars in 2022.

SMMT-Plug-in-Vehicle-registrations. Image courtesy of SMMT

SMMT-Plug-in-Vehicle-registrations. Image courtesy of SMMT


The expected rise in plug-in vehicle sales is even more remarkable given that 2021 is expected to be a relatively weak year for new car registrations. Indeed, SMMT figures forecast around 1.66 million vehicle registrations this year, compared to a 2.33 million average between 2010 and 2019. This represents a decline of 30 per cent, testimony to the impact of the pandemic and the semiconductor shortage.

Uptake rates of plug-in vehicles began to accelerate 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 now be plugged in.

A range of incentives, including tax breaks and grants, have boosted business investment in plug-in vehicles, resulting in large fleets accounting for two in every three new BEV registrations this year.

However, if the surge in BEV sales is to continue and zero-emission motoring is to become the norm, more will need to be done to encourage fans of petrol and diesel cars to make the switch to electric. With the UK already set to be the first major automotive market to end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars in 2030, this goal is even more important and investment in essential public charging infrastructure will be required.

electrification of automotive - Electric vehicles are fast becoming a mainstream option for drivers and solve many of the challenges facing our cities. - image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “As Britain hosts COP26 and seeks to align the world in committing to achieving net zero and limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, our latest outlook shows the UK experiencing a surge in plug-in vehicle uptake. Massive investment by industry as well as long standing government incentives have seen us go from just 188 new plug-in cars in 2010, to almost 300,000 in 2021.

“To achieve net zero by the desired date, however, uptake rates must continue to grow. This requires ongoing incentives to help consumers make the switch and 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.”

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Source: More plug-in vehicles to be registered in 2021 than whole of last decade – SMMT

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