EV sales thrive in dismal year for overall car sales

2021 was the second worst year since 1992 for new car registrations but EVs did not suffer the fate of their petrol and diesel cousins

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Electric vehicle (EV) sales thrived in 2021 but overall new car registrations suffered heavily at the hands of chip shortages and COVID.

That’s according to research from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which has revealed that last year was the second worst year since 1992 for new car registrations.

Although new car numbers took a hit, the uptake of EVs in 2021 was more than five previous years combined. Including plug-in hybrids and hybrids, the sales meant that 27.5% of the total vehicle market is now electrified in some form.

Last December saw EVs account for more than 25% of all new registrations, in a fantastic year for the electric revolution.

Despite this, the report reveals that the UK is ninth in Europe for EVs by market share, showing the need for much more progression if it is to achieve its net zero aims.

However, this high proportion of EVs did not stop the market dropping by more than 28% from the pre-pandemic 2019, with only 1.65 million new cars entering the market last year.

The report links this to the shortage in semiconductor chips, which has led to some drivers being quoted as long as six months to wait for a new car, and the impact of COVID-19, with less people open to making larger financial risks.

Although EV numbers thrived in 2021, the report does caveat the growth, with the fact 58.3% of these registrations were ‘mild hybrids’.

SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “The undeniable bright spot is the growth in electric car uptake. A record-breaking year for the cleanest, greenest vehicles is testament to the investment made by the industry over the past decade and the inherent attractiveness of the technology.

“The biggest obstacle to our shared net zero ambitions is not product availability, however, but cost and charging infrastructure.

“Recent cuts to incentives and home charging grants should be reversed and we need to boost the roll out of public on-street charging with mandated targets.”