Smart Transport

Government hails ‘green motoring milestone’ as EV sales pass 500,000

Electric vehicle cable plugged into white car

The Government has said the UK is “accelerating further towards a greener transport future” as sales of electric vehicles (EVs) pass the 500,000 mark. 

However, the latest figures from the SMMT show that in April battery electric vehicle (BEV) uptake dropped, following cuts to the plug-in car grant.

Monthly BEV uptake had been running at 7.5% of total registrations but fell to 6.5% last month.

Total plug-in vehicle market share broadly followed the trend seen in recent months, however, accounting for just over one in eight vehicles, or 13.2%.

Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) were more popular than BEVs at 6.8% of the market.

The SMMT now expects BEVs to account for 8.9% of registrations by year-end – down from the 9.3% initially forecast in January, while PHEVs are anticipated to take a 6.3% market share.

Total plug-in vehicles should comprise 15.2% of all cars registered in 2021, it said.

In light of the more upbeat economic outlook on the back of the vaccine rollout and easing of the lockdown restrictions in line with the Government roadmap, SMMT has revised its forecasts for the total new car registrations for 2021 upwards from 1.83 million (based on a snap poll in February) to around 1.86m, a 13.9% increase on 2020.

However, this would still be some 20.2% down on the average of 2.33 million registrations a year recorded between 2010 and 2019.

Demand is likely to be driven by a broad range of new models and powertrains, with confidence bolstered by the gradual reopening of the country, the SMMT said.

As showrooms reopened last month, 141,583 new cars were registered – significantly up on April 2020 when lockdown closed retail, and the nation, and just 4,321 cars were registered.

Retail demand saw the most significant recovery, rising from just 871 registrations last April to 61,935.

Click and collect supported the market for the first week and a half until dealerships could reopen on April 12 – a marked contrast from the same month last year, where Covid-19 restrictions effectively prevented private purchases.

However, April 2021’s consumer registrations were still 14.5% down on the 10-year average.

Overall registrations for 2021 now stand at 567,108 units, some -32.5% down on the average recorded over the past decade.

However, the full impact of showrooms reopening has yet to be realised, given the delay between a customer initially visiting a dealership, deciding on a model and then taking delivery of that new vehicle is normally a number of weeks.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "After one of the darkest years in automotive history, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

"A full recovery for the sector is still some way off, but with showrooms open and consumers able to test drive the latest, cleanest models, the industry can begin to rebuild.

"Market confidence is improving, and we now expect to finish the year in a slightly better position than anticipated in February, largely thanks to the more upbeat business and consumer confidence created by the successful vaccine rollout.

"That confidence should also translate into another record year for electric vehicles, which will likely account for more than one in seven new car registrations."


Watch now: Connecting Policy To Solutions Virtual Conference 2021

Smart Transport Conference returned on June 8th & 9th, to facilitate pivotal discussions on the future of transport. 

The UK’s most senior public and private sector transport leaders discussed the impact of Covid-19, achieving the Government’s decarbonisation ambitions, the need for more efficient living and better health, and much more.

Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of state at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who spoke on BEIS's approach to decarbonising transport, particularly the electrification of the vehicle industry. Watch his presentation below:


Comment as guest

Login  /  Register


No comments have been made yet.

Related content

Office Address
  • Smart Transport
    Media House
    Lynch Wood
    PE2 6EA
Join the community
  • Smart Transport is the UK's most important brand to bring together senior public policy makers and influential private sector leaders to showcase real-time solutions aligned to government policy.
  • Find out more
  • Insight


Welcome to Smart Transport

Welcome to the Smart Transport website, keeping you up-to-date with the latest news, insight and reports from policymakers and thought leaders.

The Smart Transport brand connects policy to solutions by bringing national government and local authority policymakers together with private sector organisations.

Contact Lindsay Greatbatch for more information.

© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd
Media House, Lynch Wood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA - Registered number 01176085 IPSO regulated logo


Smart Transport members

Smart Transport board members


Please note:
By submitting any material to us you are confirming that the material is your own original work or that you have permission from the copyright owner to use the material and to authorise Bauer Consumer Media to use it as described in this paragraph. You also promise that you have permission from anyone featured or
referred to in the submitted material to it being used by Bauer Consumer Media. If Bauer Consumer Media receives a claim from a copyright owner or a person
featured in any material you have sent us, we will inform that person that you have granted us permission to use the relevant material and you will be responsible for paying any amounts due to the copyright owner or featured person and/or for reimbursing Bauer Consumer Media for any losses it has suffered as a result.