Increasing numbers of new ultra low emissions vehicles (ULEVs) are on Britainâ€™s roads as sales soar, according to figures published by the Department for Transport.
Published last week (8 September), the Departmentâ€™s figures show that 9,657Â ULEVsÂ were registered in the UKÂ in the last quarter (April to June) â€” an increase of 49% on the same period last year and 253% on the same period two years before.
However, a recent study by the Environmental Audit Committee claimed the Department is lacking a strategy to promote ULEVs after 2020 and that the governmentâ€™s projections show it will miss its target for ULEVs to make up 9% of all new car and van sales by 2020 (see AirQualityNews.com story).
The Committee on Climate Change has said this 9% target is necessary to meet the UKâ€™s climate change targets in the most cost-effective way.
According to the figures, the total number of vehicles registered in the quarter was 805,000, a 2% increase on the same quarter last year, exceeding 800,000 for the first time since 2003.
However, while the numbers increased significantly, ULEVs still only represent 1.1% of all new registrations, compared with 0.8% over the previous year and 0.2% over the year before that.
According to the report, growth in ULEVs is being influenced by new models coming into the market, and increasingly competitive pricing. The models with the most registrations were the Mitsubishi Outlander (1,854) followed by the Mercedes C350 (1,480) and the BMW 330 (1,143).
The rise comes following the governmentâ€™sÂ extension of the plug-in car and van grant scheme, allowing more than 100,000 additional drivers to benefit until at least 2018.
Most of the increase in ULEV registrations was from vehicles eligible for plug-in car and van grants. New registrations in April to June 2016 included 9,220 cars and 274 vans of models that were eligible for these grants, 51% up on the same period in 2015.
In addition to the grant extension, the government is spending Â£600 million this parliament to support the rise inÂ ULEVs,Â working towards achieving its aim for almost all cars and vans to be zero-emission by 2050.
The government has claimed the move to electric vehicles will help theÂ UKÂ cut emissions by 80% by 2050.
Roads minister John Hayes said: â€œI am delighted to see more drivers than ever are choosing electric vehicles.
â€œAs awareness of the benefits grows, even more motorists will buy these cleaner, greener vehicles, which are cheaper to run.
â€œThese statistics show our investment is making a real difference in encouraging people to choose electric and help protect the environment.â€
Poppy Welch, head of electric vehicles campaign, Go Ultra Low, added: â€œMore and more motorists are embracing this new, green technology and helping Britain lead the global low emissions race.
â€œElectric vehicles have clear advantages, including low running costs and free parking in many locations, which is why it is no surprise they are becoming increasingly popular.â€
Nearly 80% of new registrations between April and June 2016 were cars; 12% were vans and 8% were motorcycles, HGVs, Buses & coaches and other vehicles.
The government is investing Â£15 billion on Englandâ€™s roads to improve capacity on the network and improve journeys with less congestion.
Go Ultra Low campaigns to help motorists understand the benefits, cost savings and capabilities of the raft of electric vehicles on the market. The campaign brings together vehicle manufacturers, government and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.