Car industry ‘wrong about falling retail EV demand’

  10 June 2024

Pro-EV lobbying and data NGO New Automotive has joined a growing number of firms criticising the way SMMT reports retail electric car demand, claiming falling private demand for EVs is a “myth based on flawed data”.

Despite many retailers reporting showroom EV disinterest from consumers, Ben Nelmes, chief executive of New AutoMotive, claimed salary sacrifice, private leasing and flexible car leasing options all mean cars used by private buyers are being classified as company cars.

He is part of a growing call for the SMMT to review the “inaccurate” way it classifies private new car registrations. “Let’s be clear, salary sacrifice cars are on the driveways of typical drivers,” said Octopus EV chief executive Fiona Howarth. “They’re used for the school run, weekly shop and family trips, so why should they be counted as fleet cars.”

“The anti-EV narrative claiming that private buyer interest in EVs has waned is being supported by inaccurate data,” said campaigner and former Top Gear presenter Quentin Willson.

This contrasts with many in the industry who are observing that retail EV sales are flatlining. Vertu CEO Robert Forrester has said the government ZEV Mandate risks putting OEMs “underwater” due to a lack of consumer demand for EVs.

In response, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said salary sacrifice is not counted separately “as there is no official way to measure them, as neither HMRC, DVLA or scheme operators provide this data”. He added the SMMT is engaging with the HMRC and DVLA to try and “address this gap”.

Last week, SMMT new car registrations showed overall retail demand is down -11.3% year to date; fleet is up 24.2%.

* What are your views on private registrations and salary sacrifice? Let us know – even a single sentence would be welcome!

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