How many electric cars are on UK roads?

Sales of new electric cars have soared in recent years but concerns have emerged about a decline in the number of private buyers.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show 267,000 new pure battery electric cars were registered last year.

That represented a market share of 16.6%, surpassing diesel for the first time to become the second most popular powertrain after petrol.

The market share of pure electrics has risen from 1.6% in 2019 to 6.6% in 2020 and 11.6% in 2021.

But more detailed SMMT figures show the proportion of purchases of new battery electric cars by private buyers has fallen from more than a third (36.2%) in the first half of 2022 to less than a quarter (24.2%) during the same period this year.

This has partly been attributed to the Government’s decision to scrap grants for new electric cars in June last year.

Drivers could previously use the plug-in car grant scheme to claim up to £1,500 towards the price of an electric car costing below £32,000.

The decision to kill off the grant sparked an angry response from the automotive industry.

The Department for Transport said at the time that it would “refocus” funding to encourage users of other vehicles to make the switch to electric.

The vast majority of new electric cars are being bought by fleets and business owners, which can benefit from various tax incentives.

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency figures show that, at the end of March, there were 30.7 million fully petrol or diesel cars licensed in the UK, compared with just 1.1 million plug-in cars such as pure electrics and plug-in hybrids.