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EVs take 16.1% market share in March, Tesla Model Y is best-seller, ahead of Model 3

Registrations of new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) took a 16.1% market share in March, increasing by 78.7% compared to the same month last year, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). That equates to a total of 39,315 new BEVs – the highest volume of BEV registrations ever recorded in a single month, and means that more were registered in March 2022 than during the entirety of 2019.

Perhaps of even more significance, the new Tesla Model Y was the best-selling car, with 6,464 units, and the Tesla Model 3 was the second-best-selling car, with 6,457 units.

Plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) registrations declined by -7.5% to 16,037 units, but hybrids (HEVs) grew 28.4% to 27,737 units. As a result, electrified vehicles comprised more than a third (34.1%) of all new car registrations. Only 25,305 new diesel or mild hybrid diesel cars were registered in March.

With the industry reporting strong order books, it is the constraints on supply that are preventing the sector from moving into full recovery. The shortage of semiconductors, itself an effect of the pandemic, is affecting the sector globally but longer-term uncertainty remains, with the invasion of Ukraine raising risk to supply chains. More broadly, however, economic headwinds such as rising energy costs, fuel costs, inflation and a squeeze on household incomes could impact new vehicle demand. With grants for BEVs ongoing until at least next March, however, interest rates still low and electric cars benefiting from lower running costs, there are significant benefits for drivers who can order new vehicles now.

Overall, UK new car registrations fell by 14.3% to 243,479 units in March – the weakest March since 1998. Given that around 20% of total annual registrations are usually recorded in March, the result is massively disappointing for the sector and underscores the long-term impact the pandemic is wreaking on the industry.

While private registrations grew by 8.2% in the month, March 2021 had seen showrooms closed due to social distancing regulations. Large fleet registrations, meanwhile, declined by 34.4% but business registrations grew by 20.0% as manufacturers prioritised private consumer and smaller business orders.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “March is typically the biggest month of the year for the new car market, so this performance is deeply disappointing and lays bare the challenges ahead. While demand remains robust, this decline illustrates the severity of the global semiconductor shortage, as manufacturers strive to deliver the latest, lowest emission vehicles to eagerly awaiting customers. Placing orders now will be beneficial for those looking to take advantage of incentives and lower running costs for electric vehicles, especially as the Ukraine crisis could affect supply still further. With increasing household and business costs, government must do all it can to support consumers so that the growth of electric vehicles can be sustained and the UK’s ambitious net zero timetable delivered.”