Who is buying Britain's electric cars? There will be 200,000 on the road by the end of 2018 as demand soars in London and the East of England
- Some 46,522 new electric and plug-in hybrid cars were bought in the UK in 2017
- Experts estimated that 60,000 low-emissions models will be registered in 2018
- Currently, there are around 130,000 electrified vehicles on UK roads
- The East of England saw demand increase by 21% but had the second fewest public chargers installed of all UK region in 2017
- London is about to get an injection of 1,000 new chargers, it has been confirmed
Official sales figure show there is 'unprecedented demand' for pure electric and plug-in hybrid cars in the UK with registrations increasing by a record-breaking 27 per cent last year.
Industry insiders are now estimating that 60,000 low emissions plug-in vehicles will be sold in 2018, taking the overall tally on British roads to around 200,000.
While sales were unsurprisingly highest in London, almost 20 per cent of the 46,500 green models sold in the UK last year were registered in the East of England.
Low-emissions cars in high demand: New figures revealed by Go Ultra Low said 46,522 plug-in hybrid or pure electric vehicles - like the Nissan Leaf pictured - were registered in the UK in 2017
Figures released by electric-vehicle information provider Go Ultra Low said the rise in sales could be attributed to the 'ever-expanding range of plug-in vehicles available to motorists'.
However, the increases could also be traced back to government persuasion to ditch diesel with surcharges on vehicles powered by the scrutinised fuel type.
With ministers last year calling for a blanket ban on all petrol and diesel new car sales by 2040, some 46,522 zero- or low-emissions cars were purchased last year.
That's up from 36,535 registrations in 2016.
A similar increase in demand this year would see 60,000 new electric and hybrid cars enter the UK road network - that would take the nation's total number of super-clean vehicles to 190,000.
Poppy Welch, head of Go Ultra Low, said: '2017 was a stellar year for electric vehicle registrations with strong growth of 27 per cent, demonstrating the massive consumer appetite for 100 per cent electric and plug-in hybrid cars.
'There are already more than 130,000 electric vehicles on UK roads, a figure that could pass 190,000 this year as new models come to market and consumers reap the cost saving benefits of electric driving.'
Most popular electric and plug-in cars of 2017
1. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (PLUG-IN HYBRID) - 7,464 registrations
2. BMW 3 Series 330e (PLUG-IN HYBRID) - 5,863 registrations
3. Nissan LEAF (ELECTRIC) - 5,639 registrations
4. BMW i3 (ELECTRIC & PLUG-IN HYBRID) - 3,493 registrations
5. Mercedes C-Class (PLUG-IN HYBRID) - 3,247 registrations
6. Volkswagen Golf GTE (PLUG-IN HYBRID) - 2,410 registrations
7. BMW 5 Series 530e (PLUG-IN HYBRID) - 1,980 registrations
8. Volvo XC90 (PLUG-IN HYBRID) - 1,794 registrations
9. Volkswagen Passat GTE (PLUG-IN HYBRID) - 1,443 registrations
10. Renault ZOE (ELECTRIC) - 1,166 registrations
Source: Go Ultra Low - Tesla not included as it does not release UK sales figures
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (left) was the most-bought low-emissions cars of 2017. The Nissan Leaf (right) was the most popular 100% electric model last term
The best-selling of all plug-in models in 2017 was - yet again - the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV with 7,464 registrations in total.
That's some way behind the most popular car of last year, the Ford Fiesta, which accumulated 94,533 sales to become the most purchased UK model for the ninth consecutive year.
In fact, more Mini hatchbacks were bought in 2017 (47,669) than all the electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles combined.
The best-selling 100 per cent electric model was the Nissan Leaf, with 5,639 examples registered in 2017.
Tesla, which currently sells the Model S saloon and Model X SUV in the UK, does not release sales figures to the SMMT and therefore its cars are not accounted for in the statistics.
High demand for low-emissions vehicles in the East
Of all the UK regions, London - unsurprisingly - had the most new plug-in and electric cars registered in 2017.
Some 9,274 vehicles hit the road in the capital last term - a 42 per cent increase on the previous year.
However, the biggest shock was the level of demand in the East of England.
More new electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles were registered in the capital last year than any other region. The East of England was responsible for the next biggest injection of new low-emissions cars into the road network
London registered the most new low-emissions vehicles in 2017, though a surprisingly high number of drivers in the East of England also saw the benefits of electric and plug-in hybrid cars
Drivers in the area purchased - or acquired through finance - 8,685 new electric or plug-in hybrid cars last year, which was 21 per cent more than last year.
The fewest number of electrified cars were bought in East Yorkshire/Lincolnshire, with just 398 registrations. That said, it was still a 30.5 per cent increase on the number of low-emissions cars bought there in the previous year.
Despite the demand in the region being high, it appears the facility to charge one of these vehicles away from home is relatively difficult.
According to figures released by charging network website Zap Map last week, just 376 public electric-vehicle plug-in points were installed in the East of England last year - and only 150 of these were rapid chargers providing the fastest battery top-up times.
The West Midlands saw the fewest public installations in 2017, with just 290 charging posts installed to cope with the 7,987 electrified cars that were bought by local drivers.
In contrast, Scotland had 775 new public chargers installed in 2017 through the ChargePlace Scotland scheme to cater for the 2,292 new plug-in cars that entered the market.
Find out how much it cost to charge your electric car at home.
|Rank||Region||Cars per connector||Licensed plug-in cars||Total locations||Slow chargers||Fast chargers||Rapid chargers|
|2nd||North East England||3.17||2,524||303||101||546||122|
|6th||North West England||6.44||6,176||372||127||664||167|
|8th||South West England||10.64||11,863||478||220||686||208|
|9th||Yorkshire and Humber||10.81||7,236||276||104||450||115|
|10th||South East England||12.25||21,950||613||327||1,034||430|
|11th||East of England||18.76||17,303||376||181||612||129|
|Isle of Man||N/A||N/A||10||23||18||0|
|Source: Auto Express and ZapMap|
1,000 chargers waiting to be deployed across London
There are 'close to 1,000' charge points being stored in a warehouse in Ealing waiting to be installed across 20 London Boroughs
Electric vehicle charger provider Bluepoint London said it now has a deal with 20 London Boroughs - the latest being Tower Hamlets - that will see an injection of 1,000 new charge points installed in the capital.
The plug-in-post operator said it has so far spent only £25m of the £100m budget it has allocated to transform London’s charging infrastructure and currently has 'close to 1,000 charge points' stored in a warehouse in Ealing that are ready to be deployed.
Christophe Arnaud, managing director the firm, said: 'Source London continues to be London’s leading charging network and we are extremely pleased to be working with 20 boroughs across London.
'Nevertheless we are still far behind other capitals and witness daily the appetite of Londoners for electric vehicles.
'Providing them with the right infrastructure is essential and only an immediate collaborative effort from all of London’s local authorities will enable us to find the best possible locations for the 1,000 points we have waiting in storage.'
Continental plans to make charging simpler for EVs
Continental, which is better known for producing tyres, revealed two new charging systems for electric cars at this years Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the first being a universal charging system.
Rather than manufacturers having to load their electric vehicles with different technology to match all the multiple types of charging station, Continental turns the electric powertrain itself into the charger.
Existing charging technology requires the alternating current (AC) from the grid to be converted to direct current (DC) to replenish the batteries. This conversion currently takes place in either the charging station or onboard the vehicle.
Continental's AllCharge system will allow vehicles to use both AC and DC charging stations without issue
Continental’s AllCharge system adapts the electric motor and the inverter to enable them to use both AC and DC charging stations without issue.
It expects the technology to be available in vehicles from 2022.
The second system it revealed at CES was a wireless charging system using pads placed under ground that communicate with cars and give a quick charge when they're at a standstill.
Continental said a 20-minute stop can be used to increase range by 12.5 miles thanks to the 11kW charging rate.
This isn't the first time we've seen wireless charging on the road: smartphone chip maker Qualcomm created a 100-metre stretch of road last year that sends charge to electric vehicles travelling on it, even at high speeds.
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