UK drivers catching on to alternatively fuelled vehicles

UK drivers catching on to alternatively fuelled vehicles
The popularity of alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV) has reached a new highpoint in the UK, with a growing proportion of car buyers recognising their appeal.

The number of AFVs registered grew by a fifth last month compared to January 2016, as the overall new car market notched its best numbers since 2005.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show a record 4.2% market share for AFVs – accounting for around 7,200 of the 174,564 vehicles registered in January.

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Representing growth of 19.9% on the 6,000 electric or hybrid powered models bought a year ago, it’s also the first time the proportion of AFVs has risen above 4% in the overall market.

Despite whole market growth of 2.9%, there was a notable downturn in demand for diesel vehicles.

As registrations of petrol cars shot up by 8.9%, diesels recorded a 4.3% year-on-year decline. This means more than 3,500 fewer diesel vehicles hit the streets last month.

Last month, senior executives in the UK car industry pointed to the fact that the vehicle type is fast losing importance for manufacturers, claiming that diesel only has around eight years left.

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The SMMT attributes the increase in overall vehicle demand to the private buyer sector, which grew by 5%. Demand from the fleet sector also grew, while business registrations dropped by 1%.

Its chief executive Mike Hawes noted that the new market has kicked off 2017 in great shape.

“It’s encouraging to see alternatively fuelled vehicles benefiting from this positive growth, reaching a record market share,” he said.

Sounding a note of caution, he added: “After record growth in 2016, some cooling is anticipated over the coming months, but provided interest rates remain low and the economy stays stable, the market is in a good position to withstand its short-term challenges.”

The best-selling car in January was the Ford Fiesta (8,495), followed by the VW Golf (5,455) and Ford Focus (4,796).

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