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Battery electric vehicle sales continue to rise as overall new car sales slump

BEV sales once again increased despite the new car market overall seeing a year-on-year decline. Image: Getty

BEV sales once again increased despite the new car market overall seeing a year-on-year decline. Image: Getty

Sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) rose 17.7% year-on-year in May to 15,448 in a continued strong performance according to the latest Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures.

This meant that BEVs represented 12.4% of new car sales, up from 8.4% in May 2021. This is equal to one in eight new cars joining the road last month.

Hybrids were also up 12%, while plug-in hybrids fell 25.5%.

It comes as new car sales overall continue to struggle, declining 20.6% to 124,394 in the month. This is the second weakest May since 1992, the SMMT said, resulting from supply shortages.

BEV sales were around double those of diesel, with 15,448 BEV sales compared to 7,614 diesel sales. BEVs are now consistently outselling diesel cars, although petrol still comes out on top with 56,767 sales during May.

This year to date, 92,512 BEVs have been sold, a 71.2% year-on-year rise. Market share has therefore also risen from 7.5% to 14%.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “In yet another challenging month for the new car market, the industry continues to battle ongoing global parts shortages, with growing battery electric vehicle uptake one of the few bright spots.”

Hawes continued to reiterate the SMMT’s push for an acceleration of the rollout of accessible charging infrastructure and incentives for the purchase of greener vehicles – echoing previous comments.

Other recent figures from the SMMT also show how EV ownership is continuing to grow rapidly, with EV use rising by 71% in 2021 to 748,394 cars, vans, buses and trucks.

Meanwhile, figures from New AutoMotive show there were 13,339 pure electric sales during May, representing a 12.31% market share.

While New AutoMotive's figures still show pure electric sales as higher than diesel, the difference is smaller, with 10,448 diesel sales.

New AutoMotive also tracks regional registrations using a three-month rolling average, with the DVLA areas and regions with the highest share of EVs being Maidstone (covering all of Kent) (33%), Oxfordshire (32%), Peterborough (including Cambridgeshire) (31%) and Bristol (20%).

Ben Nelmes, head of policy and research at New AutoMotive, said: “Amid global supply chain disruption and a cost of living crisis driving people away from petrol and diesel, it’s encouraging that electric cars continue to grow in popularity.”

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