UK Leasing

New car registrations drop to lowest level since 1998, while sales of electric vehicles soar

New car registrations fell by more than a third in September compared to the same period last year, while the number of electric vehicles (EVs) sold in the UK reached record levels.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), registrations fell 34.4% year-on-year, with just 215,312 new cars on UK roads. This comes as supply chain issues continue to affect new production.

The drop represents the worst September recorded since 1998, the year before the introduction of the semi-annual license plate system.

SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “It is a desperately disappointing September and further proof of the continued impact of the Covid pandemic on the industry.” September is typically the second busiest month for new car registrations after March.

Mike Hawes added, “Despite strong demand for new vehicles over the summer, three consecutive months have been hit by stalled supply due to reduced availability of semiconductors, especially from Asia. Nevertheless, manufacturers are taking all possible measures to maintain deliveries and customers can expect attractive offers on a range of new vehicles.

Semiconductors are small chips that are essential to the operation of a car’s electronics, ranging from multimedia systems to backup cameras.

In contrast, demand for electric cars continues to rise, with electric vehicle registrations up 49.4% to 32,721 sales in September. This represents a 15.2% market share, the largest yet for electric cars.

The number of electric cars sold last month was also close to the numbers sold for all of 2019, as the fuel shortage sparked greater interest in electric vehicles. Combined with plug-in hybrids, one in five new cars sold in September was a zero-emission vehicle.

The increased demand for eco-friendly models is highlighted with September’s top-selling car list. Tesla’s Model 3 was the most popular overall, with 6,879 units registered. The Kia Niro – available as an EV, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid – was the ninth bestseller, with 3,776 units reaching customers.

Mike Hawes acknowledges that “the rapid adoption of plug-in vehicles, particularly battery-electric cars” demonstrates the growing demand for new technologies. However, he says we need to make sure all drivers can make the switch with the help of investments in public charging infrastructure, to keep up with the acceleration in plug-in vehicle registrations.

Sarah Winward-Kotecha, Director of Electric Vehicles at RAC, said: “Against a backdrop of generally poor new car sales, September was a landmark month for battery-electric models, with almost as many sales in a row. months than those sold throughout the year. 2019. Plug-in cars now account for 16% of all new car sales so far this year.

“In addition, sales of electric cars have largely eclipsed sales of diesel, with three battery-electric cars sold for every new diesel car put on the road. It now looks like the end of the road for diesel, as nearly 67,000 fewer diesel cars were registered in September compared to September 2019, which is an astonishing 86% drop in just two years.

“These numbers show that there is a clear momentum for electric car adoption in the UK, but without the chip shortage hampering new car production the numbers could have been even higher.

“Fortunately, when it comes to electric vehicles, drivers can now make the switch more affordably in a number of ways, including through rental programs such as those offered by RAC. “

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