More electric cars were sold in Britain last month than ever before, as zero-emission car sales rose fivefold amid an otherwise subdued automotive market.
Zero emission car sales came to 3,147 vehicles in August compared to just 659 this time last year, as the release of several new models over the summer boosted demand, including Mercedes’ EQC electric car and Renault’s Zoe model.
Tesla’s Model 3 was the third-most popular car in the country in August – the first time an electric car has been in such high demand in the UK.
Electric cars accounted for 3.4 per cent of the market, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “August is typically the new car market’s quietest month so the huge increase in electric vehicle registrations is very visible but especially welcome.
“It’s great to see consumers respond to the massive industry investment made over many years.”
Car market still stagnates
Overall car sales were roughly flat, at a 1.6 per cent monthly drop to 92,573 cars in a normally quiet month for sales before number plates change in September.
Diesel registrations fell for the 29th month in a row, but slower than in recent months with a 12.2 per cent decline, while petrol demand remained stable, up one per cent.
Motorway.co.uk director Alex Buttle said: “Although the car industry should rejoice in the positive boost in electric car sales, it can’t deflect attention from what was another heavy fall in overall new registrations in August.
“The heightened prospect of a ‘no deal’ outcome dragged heavily on registrations in August, as consumers continued to hold off on big ticket purchases such as new cars, until the economic landscape becomes clearer.
Government grant cut hits hybrids
Pure electric cars may have had their best ever month, but plug-in hybrid sales suffered yet again after the government cut buyer incentives from £4,500 to £3,500 last year.
The industry has repeatedly said this is counterproductive in a market that is still finding its feet.
Plug-in hybrid sales fell 71.8 per cent on August 2018 to just 907 cars.
Hawes said that manufacturers can deliver the technology, but “they can’t dictate the pace of uptake.