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Bump in UK road to zero as low emission car demand reverses

Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) in the UK fell for the first time in 26 months in June 2019 as the overall market fell for the fourth consecutive month, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

UK new car registrations were down 4.9% to 223,421 units, taking the half year total to 1,269,245, a fall of 3.4% on the same period a year ago as ongoing confusion over low emission zones and diesel, the removal of key ultra low emission vehicle incentives and an overall decline in buyer confidence affected the market. Although petrol and battery electric registrations were up 3% and 61.7% respectively, this was not enough to offset a 20.5% decline in diesel sales, which fell for the 27th month in a row.

Significantly, sales of plug-in hybrids continued to fall, down by 50.4%, while the sale of hybrids fell 4.7%, pushing the overall AFV sector into negative growth for the first time since April 2017.

AFV registrations – comprising battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) – declined 11.8% to 13,314 units in June. This is despite ongoing investment, which has enabled manufacturers to offer UK car buyers more choice than ever before, with more than 350 models now available in the UK – 44 of them plug-ins – according to the SMMT.

SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes commented: ‘Another month of decline is worrying, but the fact that sales of alternatively fuelled cars are going into reverse is a grave concern. Manufacturers have invested billions to bring these vehicles to market but their efforts are now being undermined by confusing policies and the premature removal of purchase incentives.’

‘If we are to see widespread uptake of these vehicles, which are an essential part of a smooth transition to zero emission transport, we need world-class, long-term incentives and substantial investment in infrastructure.’

He continued: ‘Fleet renewal remains the quickest way to address environmental concerns today and consumers should have the confidence – and support – to choose the new car that best meets their driving needs, whatever the technology, secure in the knowledge that it is safer and cleaner than ever before.’


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