The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has confirmed that the number of brand-new vehicles registered to British fleets in April increased by 2.9% year-on-year.
That’s despite a 4.1% decline in the overall new car market, due largely to a 10.3% drop in the number of private registrations.
The other headline of note from the SMMT’s latest figures is that diesel and petrol car registrations were both down year-on-year, 9.4% and 3% respectively. Registrations of alternatively-fuelled new vehicles rose by 12.7%, but a 34.4% decline in plug-in hybrid registrations is cause for concern.
Registrations of 100% electric car sales were up from 929 to 1,517 units, but electric vehicles still make up less than 1% of the total UK car market.
Mike Hawes, chief executive, SMMT, said: “While it’s great to see buyers respond to the growing range of pure electric cars on offer, they still only represent a tiny fraction of the market and are just one of a number of technologies that will help us on the Road to Zero.”
The Road to Zero is the UK government’s overarching strategy targeting reduced vehicle emissions; eventually bringing them down to zero.
“Industry is working hard to deliver on this shared ambition providing ever-cleaner cars to suit every need,” added Hawes.
“We need policies that help get the latest, cleanest vehicles on the road more quickly and support market transition for drivers.
“This includes investment in infrastructure and long-term incentives to make new technologies as affordable as possible.”
Despite the UK government’s Road to Zero programme being part of its £500m investment plan with industry, the UK’s car industry remains a relatively small player on the electric vehicle stage.
Of the 2.37 million electric vehicles sold worldwide in 2018, the UK sold just 60,000 of them, according to the SMMT.
At the other end of the spectrum, China came close to selling over a million electric vehicles last year, with some analysts forecasting that new electric vehicles will account for half of all car sales in the People’s Republic by 2025.
Whether it will be such a smooth ride in the UK remains to be seen. Professor David Bailey, automotive expert at the University of Birmingham, believes there is “a gap between the rhetoric and the reality of an electric vehicle driver”.