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EV transition 'gathering pace' as ownership rises by 71% in 2021

Last year saw consistently strong sales of battery electric vehicles. Image: Getty

Last year saw consistently strong sales of battery electric vehicles. Image: Getty

Electric vehicle (EV) use rose by 71% in 2021 to 748,394 cars, vans, buses and trucks according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The SMMT said EV ownership is continuing to grow rapidly, with the 748,394 figure breaking down into 720,053 cars, 26,990 vans, 993 buses and 313 trucks.

It comes as car ownership fell 0.2% to 35,023,652 units during 2021, with this being the first consecutive annual decrease in car ownership in over 100 years.

This appears to be a trend that has also continued into 2022, with April 2022 seeing 12,899 BEVs sold, an increase of 40.9% on the same month last year, while new car sales overall fell 15.8%.

According to the SMMT's figures for 2021, electric cars now account for one in five new registrations, although plug-ins only represent around one in 50 cars on the road. Electric car uptake also varies across the UK, with 33.1% of all plug-in cars registered in London and the South East. This represents 3% and 2.6% of all cars in each area.

Meanwhile,1.5% of cars in the West Midlands are plug-in electric, 1.9% in Yorkshire and Humberside, and 0.9% in the North East.

The majority of plug-in cars are also registered to businesses over people, the SMMT said, while 58.8% of all electric cars on the road are company registered. The SMMT said this reflects the fact that businesses receive “broader, more generous incentives” to make the switch than those offered to private consumers.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, pointed to how the switch to EVs "continues to gather pace". Indeed, 2021 saw several record-breaking months for battery electric vehicle sales, including December and September.

“With fleet renewal essential to net zero, we must build consumer confidence in the economy and, for drivers, confidence in the charging infrastructure to get the transition into top gear," Hawes said.

The SMMT has previously pushed for binding targets for public chargepoints, as well as recently calling for the VAT on electricity used for public chargepoints to be cut to match that for home use.


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