Record year for zero emission cars in 2019

7th January 2020

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Registrations of battery electric cars surged to record levels last year despite an overall decline in new car sales, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has revealed.

The figures show that battery electric vehicle (BEV) registrations increased by a massive 144% in 2019, overtaking the market share of plug-in hybrids for the first time.

Meanwhile, annual registrations of new cars declined by 2.4% as demand sunk to a six-year low, with a 21.8% fall in diesel sales also recorded.

Hybrid electric vehicles enjoyed a 17.1% increase in registrations last year, with combined alternatively fuelled vehicles seeing their overall market share increase to a record 7.4%.

Industry is playing its part with a raft of exciting new models in 2020 and compelling offers, but consumers will only respond if economic confidence is strong and the technology affordable, said SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes.

Despite a record year for zero emission cars in 2019, the data also reveals a 2.2% rise in petrol car sales, with average CO2 across the UK's new car feet increasing for a third successive year.

The SMMT said this was partly down to the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), claiming that it generally ascribes a higher CO2 value than the older New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) test.

And although the BEV market share has increased to 1.6%, this is still well below the 50-70% share targeted by the government over the next 10 years.

The researchers warned that a stalling car market would hinder the industry's ability to meet stringent new CO2 targets, potentially undermining wider environmental targets.

However, the UK remains the second biggest market in the EU, only behind Germany, and 23 out of 90 new generation models set to hit showrooms this year are zero emission cars, while 11 are plug-in hybrids.

The SMMT urged the new government to implement policies that support the latest technology emerging in the motor industry.

Hawes added: “We urgently need more supportive policies: investment in infrastructure, broader measures to encourage uptake of the latest, low and zero emission cars, and long-term purchase incentives to put the UK at the forefront of this technological shift.“

Image credit: ©Shutterstock


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