Shropshire Star

Call for new electric car incentives

The automotive industry issued renewed pleas for electric car purchase incentives after new figures showed a decline in the vehicles' market share.

The Nissan Qashqai 1.3 DIG-T Tekna + auto

Some 15.2 per cent of new cars registered in March were pure electrics, down from 16.2 per cent during the same month last year, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said.

The industry body urged the Government to halve VAT on the purchase of new electric vehicles, amend plans to introduce vehicle excise duty for EVs, and reduce VAT on public EV charging to bring it into line with home charging.

Under the Zero Emission Vehicle mandate, at least 22 per cent of new cars sold by each manufacturer in the UK this year must be zero-emission, which in most cases means they are pure electrics.

The threshold will rise annually until it reaches 100 per cent by 2035.

Across all powertrains, some 317,786 new cars were registered last month.

That is an increase of 10.4 per cent compared with March 2023.

Growth was driven by purchases for large fleets (up 29.6 per cent), while demand from private buyers fell by 7.7 per cent.

JLR, which has its Electric Propulsion Manufacturing Centre at the i54, Wolverhampton, saw increases in both Jaguar and Land Rover models.

Jaguar grew 141.7 per cent to 4,690 and Land Rover was up 9.9 per cent to 12,376.

MG, which has its headquarters at Longbridge but has its cars made abroad, increased 5.7 per cent to 12,934.

The UK's top brand in March was Volkswagen – up 1.8 per cent to 22,147 with the top-selling model the Nissan Qashqai at 8,931.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "Market growth continues, fuelled by fleets investing after two tough years of constrained supply.

"A sluggish private market and shrinking EV market share, however, show the challenge ahead.

"Manufacturers are providing compelling offers, but they can't single-handedly fund the transition indefinitely.

"Government support for private consumers - not just business and fleets - would send a positive message and deliver a faster, fairer transition on time and on target."

James Hosking, managing director of AA Cars, said: “March isn’t just the busiest month of the year for new car sales, it’s also a crucial test of both buyer confidence and the strength of the motoring sector.

“March’s sales figures may not have smashed a 20-year record like those seen in February, but they nevertheless reveal a market that’s firing on all cylinders. While sales to private buyers dipped, fleet sales jumped nearly 30 per cent compared to the same month last year."

He added that one in every six new cars sold so far this year was an electric vehicle.

Sue Robinson, chief executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association, said: "It is encouraging that the first quarter of 2024 has demonstrated continuous growth in new car registrations and electric vehicle sales. With March being a plate change month, this month’s growth appears to have been given a boost with the introduction of the ’24 plate.

“Despite the robust growth being demonstrated by the sector, it was disappointing that the Government offered little support to the industry in the recent Spring Budget which could have aided in accelerating this momentum further. Notably, there was no mention of price incentives for EVs."

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