According to new figures from the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), plug-in hybrids in particular enjoyed rapid growth, with sales more than doubling compared with 2014. Pure electric vehicles saw an uplift of around 50%.

The wider UK car market enjoyed 6.3% growth but low emission vehicles were unequivocally the fastest-growing sector. Of the 2.6 million vehicles sold in the UK last year, almost 73,000 were AFVs.

The number of new cars eligible for the government Plug-in Car Grant scheme – which was recently extended to 2018 – rose from 14,532 to 28,188 last year, an increase of 94%.

The end-of-year results were not unexpected given previous sales figures this year. A record 9,000 new ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) were registered in the UK in the first quarter of 2015, representing a 366% year-on-year surge.

Sales spike

The electric vehicle boom is also expected to continue as ranges increase and charging infrastructure improves. A recent report from analysts IDTechEx Research claimed the electric vehicle sector is expected to develop at ‘breakneck’ speed over the next 10 years.

The Electric Vehicle Forecasts, Trends and Opportunities report states that a $500bn market looks set to be created by 2026 as the entirety of the transport sector undergoes some form of electrification.

Those looking for a spark point for this electrification can point to Volkswagen’s Dieselgate snafu, which was followed by a flurry of green announcements from manufacturers. Volvo and Toyota were among those announcing wide-ranging electrification plans in the aftermath of the scandal.

Long-ranger electric vehicles have taken centre-stage at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with Audi, Chevrolet and Volkswagen revealing electric prototypes with ranges of up to 310 miles.

Brad Allen

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