Demand for electric cars slows sharply as customers revert to petrol

Automakers have also been offering enticements such as 0pc finance and zero deposit, as well as packages that include servicing and maintenance.

However, Mr Hawes warned “compelling offers” from manufacturers couldn’t be sustained indefinitely.

He said: “Government support for private consumers, not just business and fleets, would send a positive message and deliver a faster, fairer transition on time and on target.”

SMMT called for VAT on new EV sales to be halved, changes to plans to introduce road tax for the vehicles and a reduction in taxes on public charging points to bring them into line with home charging.

At least 22pc of new cars sold by a manufacturer this year must be zero emission under government net zero rules. The threshold will rise annually to 100pc by 2035.

Carmakers face fines for failing to hit the targets, levied at £15,000 per vehicle above the threshold.

Cheaper Chinese vehicles are now beginning to flood Western markets and could yet kick-start higher EV adoption.

However, there are concerns about the security of Chinese-made cars as well as fears state-subsidised manufacturers could undercut Western brands. The EU has opened an anti-dumping investigation, while the US has labelled Chinese EVs a national security threat.

Almost 318,000 cars were registered in the UK in March, the SMMT said, the highest monthly figure since 2019.

Fleet purchases of 25 or more vehicles surged by almost 30pc while private sales slipped 7.7pc.


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