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Car industry bosses slam Government for lack of switching incentives as personal electric vehicle sales dip

The automotive industry issued renewed pleas for electric car purchase incentives after new figures show a decline in the vehicles’ market share (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire)
The automotive industry issued renewed pleas for electric car purchase incentives after new figures show a decline in the vehicles’ market share (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire)

Car industry bosses today called on the Government to do more to encourage drivers to switch to electric cars, as new figures revealed personal EV sales fell in March.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the total number of new car registrations in March rose to 317,786, the 20th straight month of growth.

But growth was slower among battery electric vehicles, and only 3.8%, which was driven entirely by commercial fleets. Personal EV sales were slightly down.

The SMMT said that the car industry was already offering “generous incentives” to customers to buy electric vehicles, but that this “cannot be sustained”. It called on Government to take more  steps to encourage a change. Last year, Rishi Sunak walked back a number of the Government’s green targets, including pushing back the date for a ban on sales of new internal combustion engine cars.

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SMMT chief Mike Hawes said: “Manufacturers are providing compelling offers, but they can’t single-handedly fund the transition indefinitely.”

Polestar UK boss Jonathan Goodman said the UK had “the lowest levels of incentives” to encourage the switch in Europe, and called on the Government to slash the rate of VAT on EV charging.

He said: ““The results today clearly demonstrate that there is a healthy appetite for electric vehicles (EV) in the UK, but we’re only seeing growth in the business fleet markets. Private retail sales are clearly facing more of a challenge due to lack of incentives and infrastructure.

“While we are seeing more healthy government grants to decarbonise housing, we are lacking similar incentives for decarbonising private transport to allow much needed EV adoption to meet net zero targets and improve air quality. Despite this, the government insists on the UK having the lowest levels of incentives to make the change compared to its European counterparts.