The analysis of statistics from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) by the RAC Foundation shows that the Mitsubishi Outlander has taken the title of drivers’ favourite low-carbon vehicle.
The total number of plug-in hybrid Outlanders licensed in the UK shot up from 16,100 at the end of the fourth quarter of 2015 to 19,945 in Q1 2016.
Sweeping into second place on the league table is the battery-electric Nissan leaf, of which there were 12,469 licensed in the UK at the end of the first quarter of 2016.
BMW’s i3, which is available in either battery-electric or range-extended model, took third position in the chart, with 4,065 vehicles licensed car on the road.
Meanwhile, the Tesla Model S, also a battery-electric vehicle, took fifth position, at 2,826.
Following swiftly behind this top five were the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid and the Mercedes Benz C350 e.
These vehicles have seen their sales soar in recent months, with drivers picking up 561 of the Volvos and 1,898 of the Mercedes – both up on previous figures.
Government grants ae currently available to help cover the cost of a new electric car or van, as long as it meets certain conditions.
According to the RAC Foundation analysis, there were 58,469 vehicles eligible for this this grant at the end of Q1 2016.
This was 10,549 more than there were at the end of Q4 2015, the findings show.
VW also announced a new focus on digital mobility, which could see the development of car- or ride-sharing apps similar to those launched by companies such as Uber.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The ultra-green car market remains a two-horse race. Between them the Mitsubishi Outlander and the Nissan Leaf account for well over half of all plug-in car grant eligible vehicles on the road.
“But in recent months it is the Outlander which has been making the running with sales racing ahead of those for the Leaf.
“The big question is what happens now. The start of March saw significant changes to the plug-in car grant scheme. Not only did the maximum grant drop from £5,000 to £4,500, in some cases it is as little as £2,500 depending which vehicle the buyer chooses. Manufacturers will be nervously watching how much this changes consumer behaviour.”