UK Shock BEV Slump Raises Specter of Automaker Fines

Paul Myles, European Editor

October 6, 2023

2 Min Read

UK car sales surged by 21% year-on-year for September to 272,610 while sales of BEVs suffered a shock slump.

A lack of consumer incentives to match those offered to commercial fleets is being blamed for the sales slump of BEVs among private buyers which saw a -14.3% drop in sales for the month compared to the previous year. This means less than one-in-ten private buyers chose a BEV over their ICE powered equivalents.

Industry watchers are now waiting to hear if this trend is likely to continue following the UK government’s decision to delay the introduction of a total ban on ICE powered new cars sold in the country, a policy now not to be implemented until 2035.

Automakers are becoming concerned that currently BEV make up just 16.6% of total vehicles sold, well below the threshold set for 2024 that requires them that at least 22% of their models sold must be BEVs or face swinging fines of £15,000 per vehicle sold in the UK under present regulations in the consultation process. Industry experts say that without radical new incentives for private buyers and a rapid acceleration of charging infrastructure, most UK consumers will not make the switch to BEV if they don’t have to.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “A bumper September means the new car market remains strong despite economic challenges. However, with tougher EV targets for manufacturers coming into force next year, we need to accelerate the transition, encouraging all motorists to make the switch. This means adding carrots to the stick – creating private purchase incentives aligned with business benefits, equalizing on-street charging VAT with off-street domestic rates and mandating charge-point rollout in line with how electric vehicle sales are now to be dictated. The forthcoming Autumn Statement is the perfect opportunity to create the conditions that will deliver the zero-emission mobility essential to our shared net zero ambition.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_  and Threads

About the Author(s)

Paul Myles

European Editor, Informa Group

Paul Myles is an award-winning journalist based in Europe covering all aspects of the automotive industry. He has a wealth of experience in the field working at specialist, national and international levels.

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