The alternatively fuelled vehicle segment grew 19.9% in January 2017 to take a record 4.2% market share – the first time 4% has been surpassed, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
In January 2017 there were 7,279 registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles. One year prior to this, in January 2016, there were 6,072 registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles.
The SMMT’s figures for alternatively fuelled vehicles – a term that needs definition to explain what it means – include hybrids, as well as plug-in vehicles. In terms of electric vehicles, there were 1,056 cars eligible for the plug-in car grant in the UK in 2011. This figure has risen each year to a total of 35,447 cars in 2016.
Across other fuel types there was a mixed picture with diesel registrations down 4.3%, but new car registrations of petrol cars grew by 8.9%.
These figures may reflect the growing awareness that diesel emissions have a negative impact upon local air quality, whereas electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions. A number of cities around the world are considering banning diesel vehicles due to air quality concerns.
Overall, the UK new car market achieved a 12-year high in January. 174,564 vehicles left showrooms last month – a 2.9% year-on-year uplift and the highest level since 2005.
Across the market, private motorists led the growth, registering 76,729 new cars – up 5.0%. Fleet demand also grew marginally by 1.4%, while business registrations fell by -1.0%.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “2017 got off to a good start in the new car market, buoyed by a great range of new models which are safer and cleaner than ever before. It’s encouraging to see alternatively fuelled vehicles benefiting from this positive growth, reaching a record market share. After record growth in 2016, some cooling is anticipated over the coming months, but provided interest rates remain low and the economy stable, the market is in a good position to withstand its short-term challenges.”