Hybrid and electric car sales rise 30% in October

Market share for Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles (AFVs) climbs to 5.9% as diesel sales plummet

The number of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles sold in the UK rose by 30.7% last month compared to October of 2017, the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have shown.

A total of 10,597 AFVs (alternatively-fuelled vehicles) were registered in October, comprising 1,256 electric vehicles, 2,896 plug-in hybrids and 5,893 hybrids.

The rise of pure electric vehicle sales is particularly impressive: the number entering Britain’s roads was 86.9% higher last month than at the same time a year ago.

However, it’s likely that the Government’s decision to cut the electric-car grant from £4,500 to £3,500 caused a spike in registrations, as customers sought to take advantage of the higher, outgoing discount.

Meanwhile, plug-in hybrid sales were up by 19.1%, although again it’s likely that the impending removal of the £2,500 grant for plug-ins caused a brief jump in sales.

The performance of AFVs at dealerships has provided a silver lining for the car industry, which has endured another decline in the last few weeks. 2.9% fewer cars were sold last month than 12 months previously, with diesel suffering a steep 21.3% fall.

A total of 2,064,419 vehicles have been registered in the UK so far this year, down 160,184 year-on-year.

AFVs are now forecast to grow to 82.5% of 2017 levels by 2020, when the SMMT expects registrations to surpass 200,000 annually.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “VED upheaval, regulatory changes and confusion over diesel have all made their mark on the market this year, so it’s good to see plug-in registrations buck the trend. Demand is still far from the levels needed to offset losses elsewhere, however, and is making government’s decision to remove purchase incentives even more baffling.

“We’ve always said that world-class ambitions require world-class incentives and, even before the cuts to the grant, those ambitions were challenging. We need policies that encourage rather than confuse. The Government’s forthcoming review of WLTP’s impact on taxation must ensure that buyers of the latest, cleanest cars are not unfairly penalised, or else we'll see older, more polluting cars remain on the road for longer.”