Analyst expects EVs to take 15 per cent share of new car market this year, but warns government must deliver further policy to support uptake

The number of battery electric vehicles (EVs) sold in the UK is likely to double in 2022, potentially taking a 15 per cent share of the total new car market by the end of the year, analysts have predicted.

After looking at market trends, predictions of future demand, public policy changes, carmakers’ production plans and EV commitments, green motoring consultancy New AutoMotive estimates that some 300,000 new electric vehicles could be sold in the UK this year.

That would mark a significant increase on EV sales in 2021, with the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) data showing 163,000 battery electric vehicles were sold during the first 11 months of last year. The industry body has yet to publish sales figures covering all 12 months of 2021.

“We expect to see continued strong growth in the number of electric cars on the road in 2022,” said Ben Nelmes, head of policy and research at New AutoMotive. “The number of electric cars on the road and the number sold will likely double next year. We believe therefore that there will be 300,000 new BEV vehicles sold in the UK, which would likely be about 15 per cent of the market in 2022.”

It follows surging sales of EVs in the UK and many other markets worldwide in recent years, as more carmakers have expanded their EV offerings, while prices and technology have also improved.

However, Nelmes cautioned that EVs would continue to be significantly outnumbered by the many millions of internal combustion engines driving on Britis roads in 2022, and as such urged the government to take action to scale up production and sale of zero emission cars. The government has set a target to phase-out sales of petrol and diesel cars from 2030.

“This rapid growth is welcome news, but an additional 300,000 electric cars set against some 32 million internal combustion vehicles on the road in 2022 falls well short of what is possible and what is necessary,” Nelmes said. “It is crucial that the government’s plans for a zero emission vehicle mandate sends a strong policy signal that enables manufacturers to scale up the production and sale of electric cars so that more motorists can benefits from reduce fuel costs and a better driving experience, and the rest of us can benefit from cleaner air and rapidly reduced carbon emissions.”

The government has pledged to introduce a zero emission vehicle mandate from 2024 that would require vehicle manufacturers to sell a certain percentage of zero emission cars and vans, a ratio that would ratchet up over time as the UK’s 2030 phase-out of internal combustion engines draws closer.

However, the government has also faced criticism from the automotive industry after opting to slash grants for the purchase of electric vehicles by more than half. Last month, the Department for Transport announced the amount drivers can claim towards a plug-in car had been slashed to £1,500, in a surprise announcement that came just nine months after the government reduced the grants available from £3,500 to £2,500.

The government argued the decision to reduce grants would allow the scheme’s funding to go further and help more people move away from fossil fuel vehicles.

But industry players were quick to criticise the move as detrimental to the pace of the UK’s clean mobility transition. SMMT CEO Mike Hawes warned in a blog post that UK incentives for EVs were now the least generous of all the European countries with such incentives in place, despite the UK having some of the most ambitious targets for EV adoption.

“Industry and government ambition for decarbonised road transport is high, and manufacturers are delivering ever more products with ever better performance,” he wrote. “But we need to move the market even faster, which means we should be doubling down on incentives. Other global markets are already doing so whereas we are cutting, expecting the industry to subsidise the transition, and putting up prices for customers. UK drivers risk being left behind on the transition to zero emission motoring.”


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