The number of electric cars sold in Britain has fallen by a third since the start of the year, amid concerns that motorists are being put off by high prices, limited battery range and a lack of roadside charging points.
Industry figures show that fewer than 1,000 battery powered cars have been sold since January 1, down 33.7 per cent on a year ago. Sales could fall further as a government grant of £4,500 ends next month, with no replacement fund yet finalised.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “These figures suggest that consumers are still worried about the four Rs that we see holding back the pure-electric market: retail price, range limitation, recharging availability and uncertain residual value. Until more affordable models come to market with a longer range, and more is done to make recharging less of a headache, it is hard to see how the picture is really going to change.”
The figures, published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, showed that more drivers were opting for hybrid vehicles powered by a petrol or diesel engine and supplemented by an electric motor. This has helped to push up overall sales of ultra-low emission vehicles since the start of the year by 19 per cent. Over the longer term the number of all-electric sales is up and 13,600 were sold last year, 32.5 per cent more than in 2016, but only 0.5 per cent of total new car sales.
Last night, motor manufacturers insisted that the recent decline reflected the fact that new models were about to come onto the market, with buyers believed to be delaying major purchases. A new model of the Nissan Leaf, Britain’s top-selling pure electric car, was only delivered to owners at the end of January, which may have affected sales.