The number of ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) registered for the first time rose by 20% in 2018, new statistics for Great Britain show.
In contrast, overall new vehicle registrations fell by 5% last year.
Published by the DfT on 11 April, the vehicle licencing figures show 63,000 new ULEVs were registered for the first time in 2018 – making up 2.2% of all new registrations.
The majority (76%) of these ULEVs were eligible for plug-in grants, offered by the DfT to increase uptake of electric vehicles, including 47,422 cars and 1,248 light goods vehicles.
The RAC says the outlook for ULEVs is ‘positive’ – but adds that growth needs to accelerate in order to make a noticable difference to air quality.
Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said: “A rise in the number of ultra-low emission vehicle registrations is welcome, but ultimately sales of these vehicles still only make up just over 2% of all new vehicles sold.
“We really need to see this accelerate more quickly if air quality is to be improved.
“With many manufacturers launching new models with better battery range, the outlook is much more positive.”
In total, 2.9 million vehicles were registered for the first time in Great Britain during 2018, a year-on-year fall of 5%.
This drop can be largely attributed to a 30% decline in the number of new diesel cars registered – with a 9% rise in petrol cars also recorded.
The RAC says while the total number of vehicles rose slightly, 2018 overall was a bad year for new vehicle registrations, especially in the diesel market.
Nicholas Lyes added: RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “The data suggests people may be holding onto their vehicles for longer, particularly older diesels, no doubt due to the uncertainty about what type of vehicle they should be opting for next.”
At the end of 2018, there were 38.2 million licensed vehicles in Great Britain, an increase of 1.2% compared to the end of 2017.