September is usually a month where car makers celebrate their collective success, being the second most popular month for car registrations thanks to the UK’s biannual registration plate change system.
Not this September. The semiconductor shortage severely impacted normally buoyant sales, the industry body SMMT recording the lowest September registrations since 1998.
Except for battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Zero emission vehicles took the biggest market share ever, recording 15.2% as 32,721 BEVs took to the road in September.
The SMMT says that this record figures for electric cars reflects the wider range of models now available and the growing consumer appetite, adding that the September performance was just over 5,000 shy of the total number registered during the whole of 2019.
Demand for BEVs is also being increased by the taxation incentives for fleet drivers, the government incentivizing zero emission vehicles ahead of its ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030.
Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the SMMT commented:
“The uptake of plug-in vehicles demonstrates the increasing demand for these new technologies. However, to meet our collective decarbonisation ambitions, we need to ensure all drivers can make the switch – not just those with private driveways - requiring a massive investment in public recharging infrastructure. Chargepoint roll-out must keep pace with the acceleration in plug-in vehicle registrations.”
Despite the impressive BEV figures, it should be noted they were skewed by Tesla’s end of quarter delivery process, bumping up the electric car registrations. The Tesla Model 3 was the most popular model in the month, with close on 7000 registrations. In second place was the Vauxhall Corsa, over 1600 units shy.
Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) share also grew to 6.4% during September, meaning that more than one in five new cars registered in September was zero-emission capable.
Nevertheless, despite the bright spot afforded by BEVs, the overall registration figures remain dismal, Hawes calling it “a desperately disappointing September”.
Industry commentators suggest that the supply of new cars affected by the semiconductor shortage will last until at least Quarter 2 2022.
Toyota took the number one ranking for car makers in the September registrations, posting 7.9% market share, its highest ever.
Agustín Martín, Toyota’s president and managing director, added: “The motor industry is facing exceptional challenges in component and vehicle supply and Toyota is not immune from their impact. Nonetheless, in a crucial month for new vehicle sales, the strength of our business planning, the great appeal of our cars and the effectiveness of our marketing strategies have all contributed to us giving customers the best service we can.”