UK Electric Vehicle Sales Enjoy Summer Boom

Photo-illustration: Pixabay

EV sales in the UK enjoyed yet another boost in August with the latest data showing new registrations of pure electric cars were up more than 60 per cent on the same month last year.

Monthly figures released by trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) yesterday show 476 pure electric plug-in cars were registered last month, a 62 per cent increase on the 293 sales registered in August 2016.

Moreover, sales of ‘other’ forms of plug-in battery vehicle – including hydrogen fuelled and range-extender cars – also enjoyed a 38.5 per cent year-on-year boost in August, with 1,215 sales compared to 877 during the same month last year.

Overall, it means all EV and alternatively fuelled vehicles eligible for the government’s plug in vehicles grant saw a near 50 per cent year-on-year increase in sales last month, taking a 5.2 per cent share of the overall car market, while deisel sales have yet again fallen.

It bolsters a record-breaking year for UK battery car sales, with more than 22,000 sold since January, equating to a 20 per cent increase on the same period in 2016, while overall sales of all car types have simultaneously dropped 2.4 per cent.

Interest and sales in electric and low emission vehicles have surged this year across Europe and North America, with several car brands including Volvo and Maserati committing to phasing out the production of pure-fossil fuel cars entirely within the coming years. However, fears were again raised this week as to whether charging infrastructure is being installed quickly enough to meet the rapid increase in demand from EV drivers.

Commenting on yesterday’s SMMT figures, WWF climate change specialist James Beard said the increased uptake in clean, low carbon vehicles contrasted sharply with the slowdown in the wider car market, with the market share for low emissions vehicles up by two thirds compared to this time last year.

“Electric cars are increasingly seen not only as clean, but affordable and desirable,” said Beard. “Only low emissions vehicles like electric cars can tackle the twin problems of air pollution and climate change, protecting both our health and our environment.”

The August 2017 figures also show a huge 75 per cent increase in petrol-electric hybrid vehicle sales for the month, although diesel-electric hybrid sales sank by more than 52 per cent.

Indeed, possibly reflecting rising public fears over the impact of diesel engines on air pollution, pure-deisel sales also continue to drop, with a 21 per cent slump last month compared to last year. Since January, diesel sales have dropped by more than 11 per cent in comparison to the first eight months of 2016.

Beard said the government needed to soon put in place a plan for banning diesel and petrol cars from sale by 2040. “The forthcoming Clean Growth Plan must set out how the UK government will phase out fossil fuelled cars, building on the recent 2040 commitment with clear policies to support growth in electric vehicles,” he said.