Electric vehicle (EV) sales were the highest ever recorded in September, with 32,721 BEVs joining the road in the month.
With a market share of 15.2%, the September performance was just over 5,000 shy of the total number registered during the whole of 2019, according to data by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) share also increased to 6.4%, making more than one in five new cars registered in September zero-emission capable.
Meanwhile, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) increased their overall market share from 8.0% in 2020 to 11.6%, with 24,961 registered in the month.
However, supply issues caused by semiconductor shortages continue to affect industry.
The UK new car market recorded its weakest September since 1998 ahead of the introduction of the two-plate system in 1999.
Some 215,312 cars were registered in the month, a 34.4% fall on September 2020, when pandemic restrictions were curtailing economic activity.
With the ongoing shortage of semiconductors impacting vehicle availability, the 2021 performance was down some 44.7% on the pre-pandemic ten-year average.
Private demand was down 25.3% with 120,560 new registrations in the month, but a bigger fall was recorded in large fleets, which declined by 43.1% to 90,445 units.
Registrations year to date are 5.9% ahead of 2020 figures, and 29.4% down on the pre-pandemic decade-long average.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “This is a desperately disappointing September and further evidence of the ongoing impact of the Covid pandemic on the sector.
“Despite strong demand for new vehicles over the summer, three successive months have been hit by stalled supply due to reduced semiconductor availability, especially from Asia.
“Nevertheless, manufacturers are taking every measure possible to maintain deliveries and customers can expect attractive offers on a range of new vehicles.
“Despite these challenges, the rocketing uptake of plug-in vehicles, especially battery electric cars, demonstrates the increasing demand for these new technologies.
“However, to meet our collective decarbonisation ambitions, we need to ensure all drivers can make the switch – not just those with private driveways – requiring a massive investment in public recharging infrastructure.
“Charge point roll-out must keep pace with the acceleration in plug-in vehicle registrations.”