Vauxhall Corsa

Vauxhall Corsa was the top selling car in February

Surging sales of electric vehicles mean there is an urgent need for greater chargepoint provision if the government is to meet its net zero target, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

UK new car registrations rose by 15.0% in February as 58,994 new cars were sold, according to its latest figures.

However, the rise of 7,682 units was in comparison with the same month in 2021 when the pandemic shut car showrooms across the UK, and registrations are down 25.9% on pre-pandemic levels, with vehicle supply remaining constrained by semiconductor shortages.

It was another bumper month for battery electric vehicles (BEVs), with sales up 154.2% to 10,417 units and a 17.7% market share, while registrations of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) rose 47.8% to 4,677 units and a 7.9% share of the market.

When combined with hybrid (HEV) registrations (6,883), electrified vehicles accounted for more than a third of all new cars leaving dealerships.

Meanwhile petrol car sales were up 5.3% to 75,420, giving a market share of 43.3%, but diesel sales were down 44.4% to 9,930, and a market share of just 5.3%.

The SMMT said provision of chargepoints was already lagging behind plug-in vehicle uptake and April was scheduled to see the effective end of the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), which has provided funding for homeowners to install their own chargepoint.

Ahead of the government’s Spring Statement, SMMT called for an extension to both the EVHS and its business counterpart, the Workplace Charging Scheme, beyond 2025 to ensure EV uptake remains on track to meet government’s net zero deadlines. It also recommended that VAT on electricity used for public charging points be cut to match that for home use, so that EV drivers are treated equally regardless of where they charge their vehicle.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said:Despite February’s traditional low registration numbers, consumers are switching to EVs in ever-increasing numbers. More than ever, infrastructure investment needs to accelerate to match this growth. Government must use its upcoming Spring Statement to enable this transition, continuing support for home and workplace charging, boosting public chargepoint rollout to tackle charging anxiety and, given the massive increase in energy prices, reducing VAT on public charging points. This will energise both consumer and business confidence and accelerate our switch to zero emission mobility.”