Hybrids outsell battery electric cars as grant cuts bite

More than half a million ultra low emission vehicles are now on British roads, with nearly one in seven new cars sold this year having a charging plug.

However, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said recent cuts to the Plug-in Car Grant had dented the popularity of battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

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A British Gas (Centrica) electric van

The trade body said that ‘unusually’ plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), at 6.8% of the market, were more popular in April than BEVs at 6.5% and that BEVs are now expected to account for 8.9% of registrations by year-end – down from the 9.3% initially forecast in January,

It added that with PHEVs anticipated to take a 6.3% market share, total plug-in vehicles should comprise 15.2% of all cars registered in 2021.

The SMMT said ultra low emission cars accounted for more than one in 10 sales last year, up from one in 30 the year before.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: ‘The automotive sector is transforming the way we drive, investing billions in ever greener and cleaner vehicles across the range, with one in four available models now capable of being plugged in.’

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘As hosts of COP26, we want to drive decarbonisation on the global stage, which is why we’re going further and faster to make the journeys of our future as clean as possible.

‘With news that the half-a-million milestone has now been met, together with the UK now having the second largest EV market in Europe, it’s clear that the shift to green motoring is accelerating.’

Separately, research commissioned by Centrica Business Solutions has revealed that UK businesses are set to invest £15.8bn in the electrification of their vehicle fleets over the next year, a 50% increase on the previous 12 months.

The research revealed that UK firms spent £10.5bn on electric vehicles and on-site charging points during the year to March 2021 but are now planning £15.8bn of investment in the same area over the next 12 months.

Centrica Business Solutions managing director Greg McKenna said the fact that firms are planning to increase their spending so dramatically over the next 12 months ‘is proof that more businesses are recognising the advantages of adopting low-emission vehicles’.

He added: ‘Now that 2030 is set in stone as the end of new petrol and diesel sales we need to ensure three things to help get us there, sufficient electric vehicles to meet demand, reliable charging infrastructure that’s available to all and a flexible energy system that can deliver green power where it’s needed.’

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