Sales of electric vehicles almost tripled in July, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, but diesel sales fell for the 28thmonth in a row while petrol sales remained steady.
The latest new car sales figures from the SMMT confirmed that drivers are increasingly turning to clean fuel alternatives to conventional internal combustion engined models, with EVs climbing to the top of the target list.
In July, new car buyers purchased 2,271 battery electric vehicle s (BEVs) compared to 880 in the same month this year. So far this year, some 14,246 BEVs have been sold, up more than 70% on the 8,350 sold in the first seven months of last year.
However, despite this apparently huge increase, BEVs still only account for a 1.4% market share, although this is the highest monthly market share on record.
Overall, the UK new car market fell 4.1%l in July, with 157,198 vehicles leaving showrooms, the fifth consecutive month of decline, as political and economic uncertainty and confusion over future government policy on different fuel types continued to knock consumer and business confidence, said the SMMT
Registrations of diesel vehicles were down for the 28th month, down -22.1%, while petrol engined cars remained stable, with 2,646 more registrations than in July 2018.
Sales of hybrid electric cars increased by 34.2%, with some 7,758 of these low-emission vehicles joining UK roads in July. Meanwhile, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles continued their recent decline, down by almost 50%.
Manufacturers have invested heavily in a growing range of powertrain options, with British drivers now having the choice of advanced low emission petrols and diesels, and an ever-greater number of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric and even hydrogen cars.
There are currently more than 350 models available in the UK, around 80 of them alternatively fuelled including 21 BEV models, with more expected to arrive in showrooms later this year.
The SMMT now forecasts this ongoing investment into new, more advanced powertrain technology will result in BEVs doubling their market share next year, with 51,000 registrations in 2020.
However, this will still represent only 2.2% of the overall market. For the UK is to meet its zero emission ambitions, there still needs to be further world-class, long-term incentives, supportive policies and substantial investment in infrastructure, says the SMMT.
Mike Hawes, Chief Executiveof the SMMT,said, “Despite yet another month of decline in the new car market, it’s encouraging to see substantial growth in zero emission vehicles.
“Thanks to manufacturers’ investment in these new technologies over many years, these cars are coming to market in greater numbers than ever before.
“But, if the UK is to meet its environmental ambitions, 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.”
Sales figures for July and year-to-date:
CBVC managing director, Mike Manners, commented: “The swing to EVs is clearly gathering some momentum. But we still need to see further Government action to stimulate the alternative vehicle market.
“For example, sales of PHEVs continue to fall following the Government’s strange decision to end the Plug In Car Grant last October, which has led to PHEV sales falling off a cliff. This at a time when PHEVs could be a sensible stepping stone between ICE cars and pure EVs.
“Charging infrastructure still lags behind that of our main European rivals and, although we’ve heard of a number of new charging initiatives that are currently in the pilot stage, such as wireless and solar recharging, the fact remains that the UK charging infrastructure does not meet drivers’ ambitions to drive cleaner models on a national level,” he said.