2021 is being celebrated as ‘the most successful year in history’ for the uptake of electric vehicles, with more new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) registered than over the past five years combined.
Data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows 190,727 new BEVs were registered last year – compared to 185,471 between 2016 and 2020.
Along with 114,554 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), this means 18.5% of all new cars registered in 2021 can be plugged in.
In addition, 147,246 hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) were registered – meaning 27.5% of the total market is now electrified in some form.
By way of comparison, a total of 1.65m new cars were registered in 2021 – up 1% on the ‘pandemic-ravaged’ 2020 but still 28.7% below pre-Covid levels.
The SMMT says record sales of electric vehicles ‘show future direction’.
However, to accelerate consumer uptake, it is calling on the Government to reverse recent cuts to incentives and home charging grants – and to mandate chargepoint targets.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “It’s been another desperately disappointing year for the car industry as Covid continues to cast a pall over any recovery.
“Despite the challenges, the undeniable bright spot is the growth in electric car uptake.
“A record-breaking year for the cleanest, greenest vehicles is testament to the investment made by the industry over the past decade and the inherent attractiveness of the technology.
“The models are there, with two of every five new car models now able to be plugged in, drivers have the widest choice ever and industry is working hard to overcome Covid-related supply constraints.
“The biggest obstacle to our shared net zero ambitions is not product availability, however, but cost and charging infrastructure.
“Recent cuts to incentives and home charging grants should be reversed and we need to boost the roll out of public on-street charging with mandated targets, providing every driver, wherever they live, with the assurance they can charge where they want and when they want.”