UK DATA: car sales fall 2% in 2022;EVs up 40.1% to record high: SMMT

New car registrations in the UK were up 18.3% year on year to 128,462 units in December, bringing the full-year 2022 total to 1.614 million units, 2% lower than 2021’s total, according to data released Jan. 5 by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

The December total was the fifth year-on-year increase since February, according to the data, although the volume was 10.1% lower than November.

While the second half of the year saw improved performance, this was not enough to offset the declines seen in the first half of 2022, with full-year sales around 700,000 units below pre-COVID levels, the SMMT said

“The automotive market remains adrift of its pre-pandemic performance but could well buck wider economic trends by delivering significant growth in 2023,” SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said.

To secure car sales growth, which is increasingly zero-emission growth, Hawes called on the government to help all drivers go electric and to back more rapid investment in nationwide charging infrastructure.

“Manufacturers’ innovation and commitment have helped EVs become the second most popular car type. However, for a nation aiming for electric mobility leadership, that must be matched with policies and investment that remove consumer uncertainty over switching, not least over where drivers can charge their vehicles,” he said.

The SMMT said that ensuring all drivers could buy zero emission-capable vehicles during 2023 depended on broader policies to encourage uptake.

Charge point provision also remained a barrier to EV uptake, with the SMMT noting that meeting the UK government’s EV Infrastructure Strategy goal of 300,000-720,000 charge points by 2030 would require more than 100 new chargers to be installed every day, with the current rate only around 23 a day.

2022 BEV sales up 40.1% on year

Battery electric vehicles sales rose 52.6% year on year in December to 42,284 units, which was also up 44.0% from November and at a record high, the data showed.

This brought full-year BEV sales to a record 267,203 units, up 40.1% year on year and at a 16.6% share of total car sales, up from an 11.6% share in 2021.

Higher EV demand has been one factor boosting battery raw material prices. Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assessed seaborne lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide at $74,700/mt CIF North Asia and $81,200/mt CIF North Asia Jan. 5, up 121% and 156.2%, respectively, since the start of 2022.

The volume of hybrid EVs sold in December climbed 58.1% year on year, but fell 14.5% on the month to 13,743 units, bringing the full-year total to 187,948 units, rising 27.6% year on year and increasing the share of total sales to 11.6%, up from 8.9% in 2021.

December sales of plug-in hybrid EVs edged up 0.4% on the year but fell 17.9% on the month to 8,367 units. However, the full-year 2022 total slipped 11.5% to 101,414 units, taking a 6.3% share, down from a 7.0% share in 2021.

ICE vehicles at 47.4% share in 2022

The combined market share of petrol and diesel internal combustion engine vehicles fell to 47.4% in 2022, down from a 58.2% share in 2021.

In December alone, the combined share was 35.9%, the lowest monthly share since January 2021.

Petrol car sales for the year dropped 10.4% year on year to 682,473 units, continuing to hold the largest market share in 2022 at 42.3%, which was down from a 46.3% share in 2021.

At 82,981 units, diesel vehicles’ market share for the year was 5.1%, down from 8.2% a year ago.

The diesel volume was also down 38.9% year on year, the data showed.

— Jacqueline Holman