While the number of new ultra low emission vehicles on the roads rose by almost 35% in 2017, there was also an increase in carbon emissions from new cars.
New figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 119,821 new alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) were registered in 2017, a year-on-year rise of 34.8%.
The figures also show that 4.7% of all new vehicles registered in 2017 were AVFs – a year-on-year rise of 3.3%.
The largest number of new AVF registrations were in the petrol-electric hybrid category (71,522), representing a 42.8% year-on-year rise.
However, despite this increase in the number of AFVs, SMMT figures also show that carbon tailpipe emissions from new cars rose for the first time since 1997, when records began – up 0.8% from 2016.
The SMMT attributes the increase to a ‘backlash against cleaner, low emission diesels’ – pointing out that these diesel vehicles typically emit on average 20% less CO2 than the petrol-engined equivalent.
Overall, the UK new car market declined by 5.7% in 2017, with annual registrations falling for the first time in six years.
This was largely down to a 17.1% fall in the number of new diesel vehicles registered, while registrations of new petrol vehicles rose by 2.7% to 1,354,917. Business, fleet and private registrations all declined, by 7.8%, 4.5% and 6.8% respectively.
The SMMT describes the decline in the new car market as ‘concerning’ but also points out that demand ‘remains at historically high levels’.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “More than 2.5m people drove away in a new car last year, benefitting from the latest, safest, cleanest and most fuel efficient technology.
“Falling business and consumer confidence is undoubtedly taking a toll, however, and confusing anti-diesel messages have caused many to hesitate before buying a new low emission diesel car.
“Keeping older vehicles on the road will not only mean higher running costs but will hold back progress towards our environmental goals.
“Consumers should be encouraged to buy the right car for their lifestyle and driving needs irrespective of fuel type – whether that be petrol, electric, hybrid or diesel as it could save them money.”