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Half-a-million low emission vehicles now on UK roads

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Written by: Emma Lunn
06/05/2021
Nearly one in seven new car sales so far in 2021 have a plug, with ultra-low emission cars accounting for more than one in 10 sales in 2020, up from one in 30 the year before.

Statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 13.6% of new cars sold in the past four months had a plug, while figures from the Department for Transport show that more than half-a-million ultra-low emission vehicles are now being driven on roads across the country.

In November 2020, the government announced plans to stop the sale of new cars that are powered solely by petrol or diesel by 2030. From 2035, only zero-emission cars can be sold, and by 2050 government wants almost all cars to emit zero carbon.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “As hosts of COP26, we want to drive decarbonisation on the global stage, which is why we’re going further and faster to make the journeys of our future as clean as possible.

“With news that the half-a-million milestone has now been met, together with the UK now having the second largest EV market in Europe, it’s clear that the shift to green motoring is accelerating at speed.”

The government has pledged a £2.8bn package of measures to support industry and drivers to make the switch to cleaner vehicles. It says this will help us meet the country’s climate change obligations, improve air quality in towns and cities and support economic growth, with vehicles built here in the UK.

However, in March the government cut the electric car grant from £3,000 to £2,500, and lowered the upper price limit for eligible vehicles. The move attracted criticism from industry experts who said it sent out the wrong message.

Cheaper cars

A significant number of electric vehicles have seen price reductions in recent months, making them more accessible and affordable for motorists around the country.

More affordable batteries also mean that manufacturers have been able to increase the range of these vehicles, with many electric vehicles now able to drive over 200 or even 300 miles on a charge, so that motorists can use them for longer journeys.

The cost of insuring electric vehicles has also fallen. According to Compare the Market, the cost of insuring an electric car has dropped by £75 over the past quarter, making it noticeably cheaper than insuring a petrol or diesel vehicle.

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