Electric company cars boost August sales

Tristan Young

5 Sep 2023

​Sales of new cars in August were up almost 25% on the same month last year thanks to a significant hike in electric company cars.

August is typically one of the smaller months for new car registrations as buyers hold off for the new September plate-change, however, the month’s figures have taken the year-to-date to 20% above the same time last year.

Growth for the month came from a 72.3% increase in battery electric cars itself powered by the company car market which saw a 58% improvement for the month. This contrasts with the private buyer market which was down more than 8%.

While private registrations may be down and electric car uptake lower than with company car drivers, there is mounting evidence that salary sacrifice schemes – which allow private car buyers to access low cost electric cars by registering them as company cars – could be impacting the stats.

A recent analysis by the BVRLA, which represents the leasing industry, reported a 41% increase in salary sacrifice cars this year, with 91% of these vehicles being battery electric.

David Browne UK managing director of electric car manufacturer Smart also said he believed salary sacrifice arrangements were impacting the true level of private demand for electric vehicles: “There's a lot of retail customers that are now appearing as fleet customers. And what I mean by that is a lot of people who would be retail normally and would show up in that channel, are now taking salary sacrifice.

“It's an interesting consequence of how, all the incentives are in the fleet industry, and the retail customer can't benefit. What tends to happen is the market finds a way to equalise. So what you've now got is you've got salary sacrifice coming becoming very strong.”

August was also a ‘Tesla month’ with the US firm registering 4,021 cars, up 325% on the same month last year. So far this year, Tesla has sold 11,059 more cars than the first eight months of 2022. This makes the brand the seventh fastest climber for new car registrations.

The August rise in electric car registrations have also taken the year-to-date market share to 16.4%, this time last year it was at 14.0%.

Founder and CEO of Electrifying.com Ginny Buckley said: “I’m pleased to see that electric car registrations are on an upwards trajectory; one in five cars sold last month was fully electric, which is an impressive milestone.

“However, I’m concerned that sales are being disproportionately made to buyers of more premium cars, evidenced by the fact that both the Tesla Model Y and Model 3 made the top 10 bestsellers in August.

“Now is not the time to be leaving mainstream consumers behind; we need to be encouraging people to make the switch, which can be done not only by improving our public infrastructure, but also by introducing financial incentives, particularly for used electric cars. The used market will be key to us hitting our net zero targets in the coming years, which is why I would like to see the introduction of a subsidised used car loan to help consumers go electric. This will help to stimulate demand and even make finance on new cars more affordable by improving residual values.”

Salary sacrifice schemes are pushing up fleet sales numbers of cars like the Smart #1

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