UK registers one millionth BEV

Sales of electric cars jump over a fifth despite gloomy demand forecasts for 2024

UK registers one millionth BEV
January BEV sales are up year-on-year

UK passenger BEV sales grew 21pc year-on-year in January to 20,935 as the nation registered its one millionth battery electric vehicle, according to new data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

BEV market share is also up year-on-year, from a 13.1pc share a year ago to 14.7pc in January 2024.

However market share for the month trails the full-year 2023 figure of 16.5pc, although this is to be expected as January is typically a weak sales month across all market segments (see Fig. 1).

Fig 1: UK BEV sales versus market share

Overall EV sales declined almost a third from December's figure of 27,841, potentially raising concerns over slowing demand.

But the UK consistently has its strongest BEV sales in the last month of each quarter (see main image), so year-on-year growth in January of any kind — despite the month-on-month decline compared to December 2023 — still indicates that demand is healthy.

Market growth is currently dependent on businesses and fleets, a sector which saw a 41.7pc increase in demand in January, compared to a 25pc fall in registrations by private buyers.

The SMMT forecasts that 100,000 more BEVs will be registered in 2024, despite headwinds such as high interest rates, charging anxiety and mixed messaging from government.

The body is calling on the government to temporarily have VAT on new BEV purchases in the upcoming budget.

"It has 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," says Mike Hawes, CEO of the SMMT.

Electric vans also saw growth, with registrations up 19.4 pc on the year ago quarter to 1,186 units in January.

Buyers of electric vans have an increasingly large range of choice, with 28 different electric van models registered in the last year.

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The plug-in electric van grant has helped sales in the sector, but greater investment in public charging infrastructure is needed to encourage rollout, the SMMT says.

The market share of electric vans is expected to grow to 9.4pc of all vehicle registrations in 2024, slightly short of the 10pc figure mandated by the government, according to forecasts by the organisation.

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