UK's new car registrations jump 26% YoY in February

(Reuters) -British new car registrations jumped 26% in February from a year ago, raising the prospect of nearly half a million plug-in cars joining the roads by the end of this year, according to industry data released on Monday.

The upcoming spring budget on March 15 should include setting out a long-term plan for investment in charging infrastructure to meet demand from battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid cars, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a statement.

The industry body also called for a review of the Vehicle Excise Duty premium that it said would unfairly penalise buyers switching to the more expensive electric vehicles.

"As we move into ‘new plate month' in March, with more of the latest high-tech cars available, the upcoming budget must deliver measures that drive this transition, increasing affordability and ease of charging for all,” SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said.

Sales of new cars jumped to 74,441 units in February, the seventh straight month of growth, per SMMT data, as easing supply chain shortages steered the market closer to pre-COVID levels.

Plug-in vehicles accounted for about a quarter of the registrations, with 488,000 of those set to join Britain’s roads this year, the industry body said.

Registrations dipped only in two segments last month - executive and luxury saloon cars - whose sales fell more than 15% and 6.3% respectively, SMMT said.

(Reporting by Muhammed Husain in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Dhanya Ann Thoppil)