UK Green car sales on the rise
After a relatively slow start, green cars are starting to make a real impact on the UK automotive market. Sales of plug-in hybrid and purely electric vehicles quadrupled in 2014 and early sales figures suggest that this year will smash records again.
Annual figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that sales of all alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) rose by 58% in 2014 compared to the previous year. 51,739 AFVs were registered last year, including low emission mild hybrids that still require their internal combustion engine to drive but use their batteries to improve fuel efficiency. AFV sales accounted for 2.1% of total car sales, up from 1.4% in 2013.
The sales of purely electric cars and plug-in hybrids, which can switch between the battery and internal combustion engine, increased more than fourfold - from 3,586 in 2013 to 14,498 in 2014.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: The year was particularly strong for alternatively fuelled vehicles as increased choice, coupled with a growing desire for reduced costs and greater efficiency, resulted in a quadrupling of plug-in car registrations over 2013.
Choice had certainly increased, with 20 plug-in models available in 2014 compared to just six in 2011. Another factor was the government-backed Go Ultra Low campaign, which offered grants and sought to encourage UK motorists to adopt greener vehicles.
Speaking at the campaign's launch, then deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg said: The extremely low running costs of these cars help drivers save money. Electric cars are one of the most promising of our green industries and we want to secure the UK's position as a global leader in both the production and adoption of these vehicles.
Figure released by the SMMT suggest that 2015 will be an even more successful year for the green car sector. 11,842 ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) were registered in the first five months of the year, up from 2,838 during the same period in 2014. 3,772 of these were pure electric vehicles, representing a 99% increase. The rest were plug-in hybrids.
The figures for January to May suggest that last year's record-breaking sales are well on their way to being eclipsed. Almost 31,000 AFVs had been sold in the first five months of 2015, representing less than 3% of total car sales in the UK.
Mike Hawes said: The remarkable growth in demand for plug-in vehicles is expected to continue as the range of ultra-low emission vehicles on sale increases.
Sales of greener vehicles could also be boosted further in the near future as more commercial entities adopt hybrid and electric cars.
Leon Daniels, managing director for surface transport at Transport for London (TfL), said: "Over the next few years there will be more zero-emission-capable vehicles coming to market which are suitable for use as taxis or commercial fleet vehicles. The demands of these types of vehicle are significantly different to privately owned electric cars, which is why we are exploring how their charging needs can be met."