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Fleet electric vehicle surge drives car market growth

A surge in the sale of electric vehicles is driving growth in the UK car market, according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The society’s data shows the new car market grew 28.3 per cent in July with 143,921 new vehicles registered. This means the new car market has enjoyed a full year on non-stop growth – despite challenging economic conditions.

Last month was the best July performance since 2020, when pent-up demand for new cars was unleashed following three months of lockdown during the pandemic. Despite this continuous growth, however, the overall market year to date remains behind pre-pandemic levels.

Company registrations drove the growth, as uptake by large fleets increased 61.9 per cent to 80,961 units and business registrations rose 28.7 per cent to 2,915 new vehicles.

Private demand remained stable at 60,045 units (up 0.3 per cent).

Electrified vehicles accounted for more than a third (35.4 per cent) of the market. Hybrid (HEV) volumes grew, although their overall market share fell to 11.3 per cent.

Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) registrations saw a significant uplift for the second month in a row as uptake rose 79.1 per cent to account for 8.1 per cent of the market.

The biggest increase, however, was for battery electric vehicles (BEVs), which recorded an 87.9 per cent increase to account for 16 per cent of all new registrations for the month, a market share broadly consistent with that seen so far this year.

The demand for battery electric cars was such that a new one was registered every 60 seconds in the month. This is accelerate to one every 50 seconds by the end of the year, and up to one every 40 seconds by the end of 2024.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “The industry remains committed to meeting the UK’s zero emission deadlines and continues to make the investments to get us there.

“Choice and innovation in the market are growing, so it’s encouraging to see more people switching on to the benefits of driving electric. With inflation, rising costs of living and a zero emission vehicle mandate that will dictate the market coming next year, however, consumers must be given every possible incentive to buy.

“Government must pull every lever, therefore, to make buying, running and, especially, charging an EV affordable and practical for every driver in every part of the country.”

July’s best-selling vehicle at 4,124 registrations – and the best-selling car of the year to date at 26,889 units – is the petrol hybrid Ford Puma (pictured in its sporty ST option), the small SUV which has replaced the Ford Fiesta.

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