Support for Private Buyers Urgently Needed to Accelerate EV Transition, Says SMMT

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has warned that the lack of support for private buyers is posing a threat to the rapid and fair transition to electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK. Many private consumers have expressed their intention to switch to EVs but are hesitant due to concerns over affordability and uncertainty surrounding the availability of a nationwide charging infrastructure.

According to the SMMT, the UK has moved beyond the early adopter phase, with a remarkable 21-fold increase in EV uptake since 2018. Registrations of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) during the January to August period of this year totaled 193,221, compared to only 9,009 during the same period in 2018. The cumulative BEV registrations from January 2018 to August 2023 reached 812,717.

The surge in EV registrations during the summer resulted in one EV being registered every minute in July. EVs now account for over 16% of overall sales, establishing Britain as Europe’s second-largest zero-emission car market by volume.

While acknowledging the progress made so far, the SMMT emphasized that the EV market must accelerate its growth to align with net zero ambitions. Previously driven by private consumers, the shift in the market has been taken over by fleets and business buyers. Furthermore, the sudden removal of the plug-in car grant by the government last year significantly affected sales to private buyers, dropping from 36.3% to 24.2%.

To stimulate demand and support the transition, the SMMT proposed several measures. These include reducing VAT on EV purchases, increasing the threshold for the vehicle excise duty “expensive car supplement,” and matching VAT on public charging with home charging. The society also stressed the urgency of boosting demand, given the imminent zero emission vehicle mandate.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes stated that the UK has the potential to become a leader in the EV transition, with a strong automotive industry, technological innovation, and scale. However, he emphasized that government commitment to EV manufacturing must extend to supporting consumers. Hawes called for a comprehensive package of measures to encourage households across the country to switch to EVs, benefiting the industry, the economy, and the environment.

The SMMT is hosting a summit called SMMT Electrified, which brings together industry leaders, stakeholders, government representatives, and other key players to discuss and address the challenges and opportunities of decarbonizing transport in Britain.

– SMMT: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders
– EV: Electric Vehicle
– BEV: Battery Electric Vehicle
– VAT: Value Added Tax

– SMMT Electrified: