February flourishes, but urgent investment needed to sustain growth
We started the week on a high, with news that the new car market posted its seventh consecutive monthly uplift in February. Deliveries grew by more than a quarter in this typically low volume pre-plate change month, as easing supply chain shortages steered registrations closer to pre-pandemic levels.
The performance signposts further recovery, notably as car buyers continue to switch to the latest electrified vehicles, with more than 17,000 joining the road last month and plug-ins now representing almost a quarter of the market. Plug-in uptake is set to near half a million units in 2023, growth that is contingent on next week’s Spring Budget delivering measures to encourage adoption and improve confidence in charging.
Further good news came from the new light commercial vehicle market, which recorded its best February performance since 1998. While registrations of battery electric vans declined in the month, this is more about natural fluctuations in fleet investment rather than any change in long term behaviour. Volumes are set to improve in the coming months as more models come to market, with the latest outlook anticipating a 64.5% rise in uptake this year.
Still, a significant challenge exists with the zero-emission van market still in the infancy stages of adoption yet facing the same end of sale date as the more advanced car passenger market. Infrastructure for these vehicles is totally lacking so installation of suitable van chargepoints must be accelerated as a matter of urgency to bolster van operator confidence to make the switch.
Meanwhile, International Women’s Day gave us reason to celebrate as SMMT hosted a networking reception, bringing together guests from across the industry and government to ‘embrace equity’ and reflect on why equal opportunities are no longer enough. We were delighted to hear from our President and Stellantis senior vice president global circular economy, Alison Jones, about her own inspirational career journey and perspective on the theme.
The recently launched UK Automotive Diversity and Inclusion Charter highlights the industry’s commitment to creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace where everyone is welcomed and empowered to play their part in driving the future of mobility. This is such an important initiative and I urge all companies that have not yet signed up to join those who’ve already made this public commitment to positive change, including APC, Auto Trader, Aurrigo, Bentley, BMW Group, Bosch, High Value Manufacturing Catapult, Cummins, DAF, Honda, Kia, Lotus, McLaren, Nissan, Pro2, SMMT, Stellantis, TMDFriction, Toyota, Unite and Volkswagen Group. To find out more, click here.