Shift to EVs ‘accelerating at speed’ with half a million on UK roads

Shift to EVs ‘accelerating at speed’ with half a million on UK roads
Over 500,000 ultra low emission vehicles are now being driven around the country in a major milestone for sustainable motoring, the government has announced.

The news comes as Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures reveal 13.6% of new cars sold in the past four months had a plug.

Sales of ultra-low emission car purchases notched a threefold increase last year, accounting for more than 1 in 10 sales, up from 1 in 30 the year before.

The rise in drivers opting for environmentally-friendly alternatives marks a positive step on route to the government’s ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

Meanwhile, the UK is gearing towards hosting the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November, and the government has pledged to ensure all new cars and vans will be zero emissions at the tailpipe by 2035.

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.”

Around 31,800 battery electric vehicles were sold in the UK in the first three months of 2021 – around 1,300 more than in France.

The government has pledged £2.8 billion to support industry and drivers to make the switch to cleaner vehicles, including £1.3 billion over the next four years to encourage the continued widespread roll-out of chargepoints.

However, in March hopeful EV drivers did see a slashing of the plug-in car grant from £3,000 to £2,500, with it being made available only to electric vehicles costing up to £35,000.

This was criticised by industry experts. At the time, RAC’s head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “By cutting the grant, the Government may risk people holding on to their older, more polluting vehicles for longer.”

The move did lead to many manufacturers cutting the price of their EV models to make them qualify for the government discount.

In breakdown, the RAC is leading the way when it comes to supporting drivers in the switch to electric vehicles.

An ever-increasing number of our patrol vans have built-in emergency mobile charging systems capable of giving an out-of-charge electric car enough power to be driven a short distance home or to a working chargepoint, while our All-Wheels-Up recovery system allows our patrols to safely rescue electric cars with no need for a flatbed.

Find out more about the RAC’s electric car breakdown cover.

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Visit the RAC Drive Electric cars hub

Read our guides on choosing, charging and running an electric car.

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