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Electric vehicle (EV) sales overtook petrol cars for the first time at the end of 2022.

Data produced by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that in December, 42,284 battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) were registered, while only 42,091 petrol cars were.

This slight increase means that more EVs were sold than traditional petrol-powered cars, as electric cars ended last year with a 16.6% share of the market in 2022, compared to 11.6% a year prior. 

However, the number of overall electric vehicle registrations last year was still well below that of petrol cars. Just 267,203 total BEVs were registered in 2022, while petrol cars reached 682,473. Electric vehicle figures were high in comparison to diesel-powered cars, though, which only registered 82,981 vehicles last year.

Simon Williams, an electric vehicle spokesman at RAC, warns that future growth in EV demand could stall because of external issues: “December was a landmark month as for the first time, electric vehicle registrations outperformed sales of new petrol cars. Rather than being seen as a niche market, EVs are now on the verge of going mainstream, with one in six of all new cars in 2022 being zero-tailpipe emissions – making them more popular than diesel.

“However, we remain concerned that rapid and ultra-rapid charging infrastructure is not keeping up with demand. Recent images of queues over the festive period at public charging stations could come back to haunt ministers if this ends up stifling demand because of perceived problems with the network.” 

Many experts agree that the slow rollout of charge points as well as rising electric costs could impact the popularity of electric vehicles.

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