Record demand for electric cars helps UK car sales stay positive

Record demand for electric vehicles helped to support the car market last month, but it was not enough to overturn a slump in overall sales.

New car registrations in Britain fell by 1.3 per cent in November, according to industry figures compiled by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. About 2.2 million have been sold in the year so far, down 2.7 per cent on the same period last year.

The industry has been hit by public concerns about the economic outlook, political uncertainty and a swing in sentiment against diesel-powered cars. Just over 156,000 models were registered in November.

Registrations for diesel vehicles fell by 27.2 per cent to 66,941 in November, compared with the same month last year. At the same time, its share of the total car market fell from 32 per cent to 23.6 per cent. Petrol car registrations grew by 2 per cent to 97,441, but, with more than 62 per cent of the total market share, petrol car sales did the bulk of the heavy lifting.

Demand for the latest battery electric cars surged by 228.8 per cent to 4,652, while for plug-in hybrids and hybrids it rose by 34.8 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively. Alternatively fuelled vehicles now comprise 10.2 per cent of the total market.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said: “These are challenging times for the UK new car market, with another fall in November reflecting the climate of uncertainty. It’s good news to see registrations of electrified cars surging again. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go for these vehicles to become mainstream and we need fiscal incentives, investment in charging infrastructure and a more confident consumer.”

The society said that the decline in sales in November had been driven primarily by weak private demand, which fell by 6.1 per cent. The business market also fell, by 3.2 per cent in its case, but fleet registrations fared better, rising by 2.8 per cent.

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