More than half a million electric vehicles now on UK roads

There are now more than half a million battery-electric vehicles on UK roads, according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The figures detailed the number of new car registrations in May 2021 and there are now over 260,000 battery-electric vehicles on the road. The statistics also show that more than 500,000 cars on UK roads are ultra-low-emission vehicles.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) market share declined from 12.0% a year ago to 8.4% in the past month, although the May 2020 performance was distorted by lockdowns when new cars could only be purchased through click and collect or delivery.

Looking more broadly across 2021, plug-in vehicles now comprise 13.8% of new car registrations, up from 7.2% a year earlier, with the most rapid growth seen in plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

With the year’s first full month of showroom openings, new car registrations in May reached 156,737 units, an almost eightfold increase on the same month last year, but is down -14.7% on pre-pandemic May 2019, and -13.2% on the 10-year May average.

Meanwhile, total registrations for 2021 sit at 296,448 fewer units, or -29.1% less than the average recorded across January to May during the last decade.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “With dealerships back open and a brighter, sunnier, economic outlook, May’s registrations are as good as could reasonably be expected. Increased business confidence is driving the recovery, something that needs to be maintained and translated in private consumer demand as the economy emerges from pandemic support measures.

“Demand for electrified vehicles is helping encourage people into showrooms, but for these technologies to surpass their fossil-fuelled equivalents, a long-term strategy for market transition and infrastructure investment is required.”