Plug-in hybrid market facing significant decline, figures suggest

The plug-in hybrid market is experiencing a significant decline, down -34.4% in April and -20.4% year-to-date, according to the latest Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures, with experts blaming the drop on the government ‘prematurely’ removing purchasing incentives.

However, alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) registrations grew by 12.7% in April, with 10,254 leaving showrooms across the country.

Petrol-electric hybrids remained the most popular choice, up 31.1% to 6,810 units. Battery electric cars also saw an increase, from 929 to 1,517 units, which still only represents 0.9% of the market.

The SMMT says although manufacturers are investing heavily to bring ultra-low and zero-emission cars to market, the sector must be backed with incentives that ‘build business and consumer confidence’.

Last year, the government said that the plug-in car grant would be cut by £1,000 and no longer apply to hybrid cars with a range of fewer than 70 zero-emission miles.

Toyota Auris.

Diesel registrations fell again, but the pace of decline slowed significantly, down -9.4%, and petrol demand dropped by -3.0%.

Overall, the UK new car market declined by -4.1% in April, with 161,064 units registered, the second lowest April volume since 2012.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, 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. Industry is working hard to deliver on this shared ambition, providing ever cleaner cars to suit every need.

‘We need policies that help get the latest, cleanest vehicles on the road more quickly and support market transition for all drivers. This includes investment in infrastructure and long term incentives to make new technologies as affordable as possible.’