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UK battery electric vehicle market share grows to 17.6% in May

Despite overall private market decline, retail BEV uptake showed resilience due to manufacturer subsidies, according to a new report

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reports that the UK’s new car market achieved its 22nd consecutive month of growth in May, with registrations increasing by 1.7% compared to the same period last year.

While registrations of petrol and diesel cars declined, demand for electrified vehicles surged.

Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) experienced the highest growth among all powertrains, with a 31.5% increase, reaching an 8.0% market share.

Hybrids (HEVs) also saw a rise of 9.6%, maintaining their position as the third most popular fuel type after petrol and battery electric, capturing 13.2% of the market.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) registrations outperformed the overall market, rising by 6.2% to claim a 17.6% market share, up from 16.9% in the same month last year.

While fleet sector volumes drove this growth with a 10.7% increase, private retail BEV uptake declined by 2.0%.

This decline, though modest, falls short of the trajectory mandated by the government’s Vehicle Emissions Trading Scheme, which requires 22% of new vehicle sales to be zero emission this year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “As Britain prepares for next month’s general election, the new car market continues to hold steady as large fleets sustain growth, offsetting weakened private retail demand.

“Consumers enjoy a plethora of new electric models and some very attractive offers, but manufacturers can’t sustain this scale of support on their own indefinitely.

“Their success so far should be a signpost for the next government that a faster and fairer transition requires carrots, not just sticks.”

Kim Royds, mobility director at Centrica, said: “Electric vehicle registrations continue to be growing at a solid pace – even in the typically quieter, summer months – which points to increased confidence among drivers to make the switch away from petrol and diesel vehicles.

“Despite this, access to charging remains one of the main barriers to mass EV adoption. If we’re to make electric vehicles accessible for every driver across the UK, then we must tackle the inequality that exists between at home and public charging.”

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