Record number of plug-in cars as ownership surges by three quarters

The number of plug-in electric cars on our roads grew by 76% last year, according to data compiled by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders.

The analysis shows that there are now a record 195,410 plug-in vehicles on the roads, reflecting the growing choice of models now on offer. Overall ownership of alternatively fuelled vehicles increased by almost 30% last year, with more than 620,000 hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric cars now in use.

What’s more, as drivers take advantage of the latest low emission vehicle technology – whether petrol, diesel or AFV – average CO2 emissions have fallen to the lowest on record, down 17.8% compared with 2008.

Thanks to manufacturer investment in advanced powertrains, transmission types, lightweight materials and aerodynamics, cars are more efficient than ever before and drivers are seeing the benefits.

The UK’s record 34.9 million-strong car fleet has also never been more diverse, with more than 1,600 model ranges and almost 68,000 different specifications on offer last year. While superminis continued to dominate, making up a third (33.2%) of all cars in the parc, dual-purpose vehicles saw the biggest growth, up 10.6%. Family hatchbacks and saloons (upper-medium) saw the largest fall, down 4.7% to four million.

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“Thanks to massive investment from manufacturers in delivering a wide range of models across all fuel types, to suit all driving needs, environmental gains are now being delivered across the UK,” SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said. “Ever-more advanced in technology makes every new generation of vehicle more efficient than the last, and this is filtering rapidly from the new car market into the broader parc.

“Fleet renewal is proven to work, so we need a world-class package of incentives and infrastructure to give motorists the confidence to buy the latest, cleanest cars, whatever the fuel type, in the greater numbers we need to meet environmental challenges.”