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SMMT says ‘carrots’ needed to entice sales of EVs by private buyers, despite September boom

  • Registrations of 73-plate cars soared by 21 per cent in September
  • BEV sales were driven entirely by fleets, prompting calls for incentives for private buyers
  • Nissan Qashqai was month’s best-seller; Ford Puma remains year-to-date favourite

Time 9:40 am, October 5, 2023

Registrations of 73-plate cars boomed in September with figures showing the new car market grew by 21 per cent.

However, while registrations of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) soared again last month, the growth was driven entirely by fleets, prompting the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) to call for private buyer support.

The latest data from the organisation shows that 272,610 new cars were registered in the new 73-plate month of September – a 21 per cent increase on the same month last year, and the 14th consecutive month of growth.


Last month was also the best September since 2020, although the market is still down by nearly 21 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.

The growth was driven by large fleets, the data revealed, which rose 40.8 per cent to 143,256 units to reach a market share of 52.5 per cent.

The SMMT said this represented a ‘market rebalancing’ after constrained supply last year, restricting fleets and business customers.


Private sales were up by 5.8 per cent to 122,944 units.

Registrations of plug-in were up 50.9 per cent to take a 6.8 per cent market share.

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) were up by 30.7 per cent to account for 13.9 per cent of all registrations, while BEVs recorded their 41st consecutive month of growth with 45,323 units – an 18.9 per cent uplift.

However, the SMMT said that given this growth was less than the overall recorded by the market, BEV market share slipped back slightly to 16.6 per cent from 16.9 per cent a year ago.

The BEV volume increases were ‘driven entirely’ by fleets, said the SMMT, and increased by 50.6 per cent.

Private BEV registrations fell by 14.3 per cent with less than one in 10 private new car buyers opting for electric during the month.

The SMMT remarked that this decline ‘underlines the importance of providing these motorists with purchase incentives and other mechanisms to stimulate demand’.

Chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘A bumper September means the new car market remains strong despite economic challenges.

‘However, with tougher EV targets for manufacturers coming into force next year, we need to accelerate the transition, encouraging all motorists to make the switch.


‘This means adding carrots to the stick – creating private purchase incentives aligned with business benefits, equalising on-street charging VAT with off-street domestic rates and mandating chargepoint rollout in line with how electric vehicle sales are now to be dictated.

‘The forthcoming Autumn Statement is the perfect opportunity to create the conditions that will deliver the zero emission mobility essential to our shared net zero ambition.’

September’s best-seller was the Nissan Qashqai with 8,565 units to its name, followed by the Ford Puma (8,087) and Kia’s Sportage (5,739).

The Puma continues to be the year-to-date best-seller with 37,312 units, and the Tesla Model Y, though ranked fourth overall with 28,177, is currently the UK’s most popular EV.

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.



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