Electric car charging station in London, via PAElectric car charging station in London, via PA

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Private EV buyers need more support for speedier transition, says SMMT

  • UK’s EV transition has emerged from ‘early adopter’ market phase, says SMMT
  • EV registrations on track to reach almost 18 per cent market share by year end
  • End of private consumer incentives is said to be undermining mass market demand
  • SMMT hosting summit on zero emission vehicle transition

Time 10:35 am, September 18, 2023

A faster and fairer mass transition to EVs is being threatened by the lack of support for private buyers.

That’s according to the SMMT, which said today that many private consumers planned to go electric but were dithering because of concerns over affordability and uncertainty about a nationwide charging infrastructure.

The industry body said the UK had emerged from the early adopter phase, with a 21-fold growth in EV uptake since 2018 – BEV registrations between January and August 2018 numbered 9,009 but between the same period this year they totalled 193,221.


It added that there had been 812,717 BEV registrations between January 2018 and August 2023.

A summer surge this year saw one electric vehicle registered every 60 seconds in July, and EVs now account for more than 16 per cent of overall sales, it said, making Britain Europe’s second-largest zero emission car market by volume.

In 2018, EVs comprised just 0.7 per cent of the new car market but they’re anticipated to account for 17.8 per cent by the end of this year, which the SMMT hailed as ‘good progress’ but added that the EV market must move more swiftly to meet net zero ambitions.


It said the shift was originally driven by private consumers but they’d been overtaken by fleets and business buyers.

And after the government axed the plug-in car grant out of the blue last year – which the SMMT said left Britain as the only major European market with no consumer EV incentives yet having the most ambitious transition timeline – sales to private buyers fell from more than one in three (36.3 per cent) to fewer than one in four (24.2 per cent).

It warned that driving up demand was now even more urgent with the looming zero emission vehicle mandate.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘We are entering a new phase in the UK’s EV transition in which Britain can, and should, be a leader.

‘We have the industry, the love of new technology and the scale to succeed.

‘The government has recently demonstrated its commitment to EV manufacturing in the UK and that commitment must be extended to the consumer.

‘With a new – and still to be finalised – zero emission vehicle mandate due to revolutionise the market in just over 100 days, supply must be matched by demand.

‘A comprehensive package of measures would encourage households across the UK to go electric now, boosting an industry slowly recovering from the pandemic and delivering benefits for the exchequer, society and the global environment.’

The SMMT suggests reducing VAT on EV purchases, raising the threshold for the vehicle excise duty ‘expensive car supplement’ from its 2017 level of £40,000 to reflect today’s costs – or exempting EVs altogether – and matching VAT on public charging with home charging at five per cent, not 20 per cent.


The society is today hosting a summit on the zero emission vehicle transition, entitled SMMT Electrified, bringing together more than 600 automotive industry leaders, as well as stakeholders and representatives from the government, energy sector, charge point providers and fleets, to discuss and debate the key challenges and opportunities as Britain decarbonises its transport.

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.



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