More electric cars sold in March than all of 2019

Car makers around the world are still struggling to source enough chips after factories that produce them closed down in the early days of the pandemic nearly two years ago. Adding to those problems is a shortage of some car parts made in Ukraine such as bundles of electrical cabling. 

These shortages have helped push up the cost of both new and used cars.

Overall sales slumped to their lowest point since 1998 in March, which is typically a popular month because it is the first month of the new registration year.

The biggest decline came from purchases by large fleet operators, with sales down by more than a third. Manufacturers prioritised private buyers and small businesses for the vehicles they had available, the SMMT said.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “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.”

The Tesla Model Y and Model 3 was followed by the Vauxhall Corsa, which is leading the sales chart for the year to date.

While growth is picking up, the industry is concerned about the number of public electric chargers available to attract those who drive long distances and do not have a driveway or garage.

Many buyers of electric car buyers use them to commute or have a second, petrol car.

Separately van sales fell by more than a quarter after a burst of sales activity last year. The van market lags passenger cars in electrification, with only 6pc of sales.

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