Poor sales of the greenest cars are undermining government plans to cut toxic roadside emissions, researchers have said.
There has been a dramatic slowdown in the switchover to pure electric cars in the past 12 months because of concerns about high prices and a lack of roadside chargers, according to a study published today.
Figures show that sales of electric cars — those with no exhaust emissions — increased by 7 per cent in 2017-18 compared with a year earlier, with 878 more cars being sold. The rate of growth dropped from 21 per cent the year before, when an additional 2,238 vehicles were sold.
In all, electric car sales were 13,586 in the year to the end of June, representing 0.6 per cent of all new vehicles on British roads.
In the past year large numbers of drivers have deserted diesel cars, deterred by the Volkswagen emissions scandal and the threat of tax rises. Sales fell by 331,095 to 864,905 in 2017/18.
However, the research indicates that few motorists are switching from diesel to pure electric models, with most instead opting for petrol cars or hybrids that run using a combustion engine and battery power.
The disclosure will reinforce concerns that the government is struggling to meet its ambition of making all new cars effectively zero emission by 2040.
The study by UHY Hacker Young, the accountancy group, warned that the automotive industry was making slow progress in the introduction of affordable electric vehicles. It also cited concerns over relatively low battery range and a lack of public charge points.
The best-selling electric car is the Nissan Leaf, which starts at £26,500, followed by the BMW i3, which costs at least £34,445.
Last month, the government cut incentives for green cars, raising further concerns over costs. Grants for pure electric vehicles went down from £4,500 to £3,500, while subsidies for hybrids were abolished altogether.