March sees highest number of EV registrations in a single month

Demand for electric vehicles continued to surge last month, as March saw the highest volume of EV registrations ever recorded in a single month.

March was the best month ever for electric vehicle sales, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), with 39,315 new zero emission cars sold last month, representing an increase of 78.7% on last year. This means that more electric vehicles were registered in March 2022 than during the entirety of 2019.

Plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) registrations declined by -7.5% to 16,037 units, but hybrids (HEVs) grew 28.4% to 27,737 units. As a result, electrified vehicles comprised more than a third (34.1%) of all new car registrations.

The continued surge in demand for electric vehicles is despite new car registrations witnessing the weakest March since 1998, with a decline of -14.3% to 243,479 units. That decline comes in a month when around 20% of total annual registrations are usually recorded.

In spite of the rollback of pandemic restrictions, which limited the industry to ‘click and collect’ in the first part of 2021, overall Q1 registrations for 2022 were down -1.9%.

While private registrations grew by 8.2% in the month, March 2021 had seen showrooms closed due to social distancing regulations. Large fleet registrations, meanwhile, declined by -34.4% but business registrations grew by 20.0% as manufacturers prioritised private consumer and smaller business orders.

In its monthly report, the SMMT cites shortage of semiconductors, itself an effect of the pandemic, as a major factor for the decline, along with the Ukraine crisis which has raised risks to the supply chain.

It adds that rising energy costs, fuel costs, inflation and a squeeze on household incomes could impact new vehicle demand. With grants for BEVs ongoing until at least next March, however, interest rates still low and electric cars benefiting from lower running costs, there are significant benefits for drivers who can order new vehicles now.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “March is typically the biggest month of the year for the new car market, so this performance is deeply disappointing and lays bare the challenges ahead. While demand remains robust, this decline illustrates the severity of the global semiconductor shortage, as manufacturers strive to deliver the latest, lowest emission vehicles to eagerly awaiting customers. Placing orders now will be beneficial for those looking to take advantage of incentives and lower running costs for electric vehicles, especially as the Ukraine crisis could affect supply still further. With increasing household and business costs, government must do all it can to support consumers so that the growth of electric vehicles can be sustained and the UK’s ambitious net zero timetable delivered.”