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Offer private owners the same EV incentives as fleets

New figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) demonstrate the extent to which the fleet car market is driving the reduction of emissions on the UK’s roads.

There have never been as many cars on the road as there is now, however, over the last 12 months CO2 emissions have fallen by 2.1% across the board and by a huge 11.5% in the company car sector.  

Rows of expensive modern cars on asphalt parking of manufacture

The report credits this to the ‘compelling fiscal incentives encouraging fleets to invest in EVs and manufacturer investment in new lower and zero emission models.’ It adds: ‘Providing private consumers with similar incentives to switch would help dramatically decarbonise UK road transport.’

The headline figure in the report is that 2023 saw the biggest growth in car ownership for seven years, with the total number rising by 1.6% to 35,694,845.

2.7% (or one-in-40) of the cars on the road is a zero emission vehicle, with almost half a million new battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles being registered last year. This compares to just 1.9% in 2022.

While the number of EVs on the road is increasing, EV charging infrastructure is barely keeping up.  The current figure of one chargepoint for every 35 EVs is no better than it was a year ago. 

The highest rates of EV ownership are in London and the South East where 5.9% of all cars are emissions-free.

On the other side of the coin, the position public transport finds itself in looks less rosy, with bus fleet levels falling to their lowest since records began. The 71,239 currently on the road representing a sizeable reduction from the 100,000+ in 2007.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: ‘After two challenging years of constrained supply, more people and businesses across the UK are now getting back behind the wheel – and increasingly, opting for greener options. However, given the ageing fleet, we now need to encourage consumers and businesses who have deferred purchases of new cars, vans, trucks and buses to upgrade.

‘A stronger and stable economy, coupled with reduced living costs, would boost consumer and business confidence, while compelling fiscal incentives would ensure that these purchases are emissions free. Not only would this accelerate the transition – fundamental to the UK’s net zero ambitions – but it would also stimulate the economy and enhance the wider environment in which we all live.’

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