New car registrations rise but outlook softens for battery electric vehicles

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) accounted for 15.4 per cent of new car registrations in April but more investment is needed to incentivise drivers to make the switch, the SMMT warns.


The trade association’s monthly registrations round-up points to a ninth successive month of growth in the new car market, up 11.6 per cent to 132,990 registrations.

SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) analysis shows BEV deliveries up to 20,522 units. Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) were up 33.3 per cent to 8,595 registrations, while hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) recorded a 7.7 per cent increase to 15,026 units. Despite accounting for over a third of registrations in April, these alternatively fuelled vehicles are still being outpaced by petrol-powered cars, which accounted for 58.1 per cent of all registrations.

The overall market is up 16.9 per cent in the first four months, leading to an upward revision of the quarterly market outlook with 1.83 million new car registrations expected in 2023.


The sector is less optimistic about growth in demand for BEVs, downgrading their expected 2023 market share from 19.7 per cent to 18.4 per cent, with high energy costs and insufficient charging infrastructure anticipated to soften demand. The latest outlook for 2024, meanwhile, suggests that 22.6 per cent of new car registrations will be BEVs, a downward revision from the 23.3 per cent forecast in January.

Commenting, John Langley-Davis, head of technology at Swindon-based voltage regulation and fault detection specialist Fundamentals ltd, said “To make EV ambitions a reality and give drivers confidence in making the switch, investment and careful coordination in the underlying infrastructure needs to shift up a gear, while change also needs to be foreseen.

“For example, new regulations are set to be formalised in the coming weeks that will govern the percentage of sales carmakers have to make from zero emission models from 2024. As these initiatives drive more EVs onto roads, a clearer roadmap is needed to ensure the UK can cope.”