Demand for alternatively fueled vehicles (AFVs) continues to surge, with sales rising almost 60% in August and over 32% for the year to date. AFVs are slowly growing their market share, rising from 3.2% in 2016 to 4.4% in 2017 – with August claiming 5.2% of total new car registrations. This on the back of diesel sales dropping 11.5% for the year and petrol growing only 4.2%.

 

The latest new car registration figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) follow a trend that recently became UK policy. The government has announced new diesel and petrol cars and vans will be banned in the UK from 2040, in a bid to tackle air pollution. Ministers also unveiled a £255m fund to help councils tackle emissions, which may be contributing to the decline in diesel sales, as they have been identified as one of the largest contributors to roadside nitrogen dioxide levels according to DEFRA.

 

A shifting automotive market

The UK is not the only country accelerating towards an electric vehicle future, as France recently announced similar plans to phase out diesel and petrol cars by 2040. BMW has announced a fully electric version of the Mini – one of the top sellers for 2017 so far – will be built at their Cowley plant in Oxford from 2019. And Sweden’s Volvo has said all new models will have an electric motor from the same year.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said demand for AFVs was growing but, he added, they are still at a very low level. “While it’s encouraging to see record achievements for alternatively fuelled vehicles, consumers considering other fuel types will have undoubtedly been affected by the uncertainty surrounding the government’s clean air plans.

“It is important to remember that there are no plans to charge drivers using the latest Euro 6 models and no proposed bans for conventional petrol and diesel vehicles for some 23 years. The lower demand in recent months will inevitably mean competition from manufacturers will intensify and it will be a good opportunity for consumers to get a great deal on their next car, with many exciting new models launched in the coming months.”

 

Clean Air Strategy

Government’s £3bn clean air strategy provides local authorities with financial support for a range of measures to reduce emissions, including changing road layouts, implementing new technologies or encouraging residents onto public transport. Charging zones are another possibility but government has said these should only be used for limited periods.

Other points include:

  • Tax on diesel vehicles and reprioritised departmental budgets will fund the scheme
  • The opportunity for local authorities to apply for additional funding for further air quality control measures
  • A new Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill requiring the installation of electric vehicle charge points at motorway service stations and large fuel retailers.

 

All these measures and new vehicle registration trends point towards an alternatively fuelled future.

 

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