UK's EV registrations almost triple as diesel sales tumble

Almost three times as many electric cars were registered in the UK this July than in July 2018, research from one of the nation's largest automotive trade associations has concluded.

The SMMT claims that there are currently 80 "alternatively fuelled" car lines on sale in the UK, including 21 fully electric models 

The SMMT claims that there are currently 80 "alternatively fuelled" car lines on sale in the UK, including 21 fully electric models 

The data, recorded by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), shows that registrations of fully electric vehicles (EVs) were up 158% year-on-year, from 880 in July 2018 to 2,271 in July 2018.

Hybrid-electric vehicle registrations were also up by 34.2% within the same timeframe, while a whopping 331% increase in registrations was recorded for mild hybrid-electric vehicles with diesel capacity.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) registrations, however, were down 49.6% year-on-year. The decrease comes after the Department for Transport (DfT) altered its Plug-In Car Grant last Autumn, to reduce its grant for EV buyers by up to £1,000 per customer while removing some plug-in hybrid-electric models from the scheme altogether.

Nonetheless, SMMT claims that EVs accounted for a record proportion of overall UK car registrations last month, while new diesel car registrations were down by more than one-fifth (22.1%) year-on-year.

These trends come amid trying times for the UK’s car industry, with total July 2019 car registrations down 4.1% from the year prior. This drop off is being widely attributed – at least, in part – to Brexit, with automakers scrambling for reassurances that post-Brexit Britain will become a thriving hub for future product lines.

Commenting on the SMMT’s findings, the organisation’s chief executive Mike Hawes said that EVs are now on track to double their market share to 2.2% in 2020.

“Thanks to manufacturers’ investment in these new technologies over many years, these cars are coming to market in greater numbers than ever before,” Hawes said.

“If the UK is to meet its environmental ambitions, however, Government must create the right conditions to drive uptake, including long-term incentives and investment in infrastructure. The fastest way to address air quality concerns is through fleet renewal, so buyers need to be given the confidence to invest in the new, cleaner vehicles that best suit their driving needs, regardless of how they are powered.”

Driving towards net-zero?

Hawes is just one of many high-profile business figures to have urged the UK Government to do more in supporting businesses to decarbonise transport, after it enshrined a legally binding net-zero target for 2050 into law earlier this summer.

Transport it widely viewed as the Achilles heel of national decarbonisation efforts. It overtook the power industry as the most carbon-intense sector in 2016 and saw its emissions rise by 2% last year, with the main source of emissions deriving from the use of petrol and diesel.

In order to change this trajectory, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recommended that the Government brings its 2040 ban on new petrol and diesel sales forward by at least eight years. Ministers had refused to move the date before net-zero was legislated and are yet to provide an update on whether their stance has changed.

The CCC has also criticised the Government’s existing strategy for decarbonising road transport and spurring the e-mobility revolution, called ‘Road to Zero’. The body has said that Ministers are failing to confirm financial support to domestic and business customers seeking to purchase electric vehicles (EVs) after 2020, invest into EV charging infrastructure and associated power system upgrades or require automakers to set long-term climate targets. Similarly, WWF’s head of climate and energy Gareth Redmond-King said that Road to Zero showed a “failure of climate leadership”.

Sarah George



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