UK new car sales rise in January as EV registrations surpass 1m
Britain's new car market grew by 8.2% year-on-year in January, the highest rate of growth since 2020, according to data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) on Monday.
New car registrations totalled 142,876 last month, 10,882 units more than in January 2023, representing the 18th straight month of annual growth.
The SMMT said the increase was driven entirely by the fleet market, which rose by 29.9%, while private retail uptake fell -15.8%. Fleets accounted for 63.2% of new cars registered in January, up from 52.7% the year before.
Battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales rose 21% year-on-year to 20,935 and now account for 14.7% of the new car market, while plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) sales jumped 31.1% to 11,944.
The SMMT said that the number of BEV vehicles sold since records began in 2002 has now risen to 1,001,677, with the 1m milestone "testament to the commitment of manufacturers to deliver ever-increasing numbers of zero emission models".
The SMMT now predicts that 1.974m units will be sold across 2024, up 4,000 from its last estimate in October, though the BEV market share forecast has been trimmed to 21% from 22.3%, with demand restricted by numerous factors like high energy prices, inflation and interest rates, charging anxiety and "mixed messaging" from the government.
"It’s taken just over 20 years to reach our million EV milestone – but with the right policies, we can double down on that success in just another two," said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.
"Market growth is currently dependent on businesses and fleets. Government must therefore use the upcoming Budget to support private EV buyers, temporarily halving VAT to cut carbon, drive economic growth and help everyone make the switch. Manufacturers have been asked to supply the vehicles, we now ask government to help consumers buy the vehicles on which net zero depends."
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