Growth in plug-in cars continues with ‘record’ quarter

Registrations of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles hit their highest-ever level during the third quarter of 2017, figures published by the government-backed Go Ultra Low campaign have suggested.

Electric vehicles have been identified as a potential long-term solution to air pollution in towns and cities due to their low tailpipe emissions compared to conventional petrol and diesel vehicles. Fully electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions, whilst hybrid models are zero emission capable.

plug-in car air quality

More than 12,000 plug-in cars were registered between July and September 2017

However, some experts have suggested that whilst plug-in vehicles go some way to address nitrogen dioxide levels in towns and cities, there is still a level of pollution emitted in the form of particulate matter from tyre and brake-wear, whilst additional vehicles on the roads contribute to congestion in busy areas.

Data on the number of new electric and plug-in vehicles registered for sale, published this week (12 October) have suggested that a total of 12,932 new models were registered between July and September 2017, a rise of 36% on the same period in 2016.

This also represents a 721 unit increase on the previous record quarter, between January and March 2017.

The increase in registrations of plug-in vehicles comes as latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have suggested a fall in demand for petrol and diesel cars in recent months (see story).

SMMT cited economic and political uncertainty as well as “confusion” over air quality plans as fuelling a decline in consumer confidence as contributing to a 9.3% fall in registrations of petrol and diesel cars during September 2017.

According to Go Ultra Low the increase in the number of plug-in vehicles entering the market has been driven by the “rapidly expanding variety of plug-in vehicles offered by manufacturers”, low running costs, and the “continually-improving” national charging infrastructure.


Go Ultra Low is launching a new campaign this week with a new website, advertising, and social media campaign that aims to make it even easier for UK motorists to understand the benefits of electric vehicles.

Poppy Welch, Head of Go Ultra Low, said: “It is great to see that the popularity of plug-in cars continues to grow at a record pace. To help even more UK motorists save money and cut their emissions, Go Ultra Low is launching a new media campaign that will help UK motorists find out what type of electric vehicle could be right for them.

“A host of real-world plug-in vehicle owner case studies and eight informative videos will demonstrate how plug-in vehicles could fit into motorists’ lives, even to those completely new to plug-in cars.”

Transport Minister, Jesse Norman said: “We are committed to investing £1bn in ultra-low emission vehicles, including £100 million in the UK’s charging infrastructure by 2021. It is great to see more than 120,000 people have already made the switch.

“The launch of the new Go Ultra Low website demonstrates how ultra low emission vehicles can fit into even more people’s lives. It is our ambition that every new car and van is zero emission by 2040 and decarbonising our transport is a key part of the government’s Clean Growth Strategy.”


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