Plug-in and zero-emission electric cars are going to play a key role in helping the UK motor industry recover as showrooms open up

As car showrooms reopen their doors today, consumers will be greeted by a vast choice of the cleanest ever vehicles to suit their needs. This is according to new research by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Today we have the widest ever choice of low and zero-emission cars accounting for around one in three available models. This includes 16.2 percent plug-in hybrid, 9.5 percent battery-electric, 7.1 percent hybrid electric and 0.4 percent fuel cell.

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The latest analysis reveals that there are now 462 individual car models available in around 4,650 standard specifications augmented by an almost infinite number of options.

Consumers will have a near-limitless choice of mobility options as lockdown restrictions are eased. Now, they will also be able to tap directly into dealer expertise to identify the vehicle, power source and specification best suited for their needs.

New vehicle clean uptake is crucial to the UK reaching its emission reduction goals, as older, less efficient cars are taken off the road and replaced by the latest lower emission ones. The average new car in 2020 emitted minus 21.7 percent less CO2 than its 2010 counterpart, helping the country and the industry meet their respective climate change targets.

Despite the variety available and anticipated consumer demand, the industry has warned that a full recovery by the end of the year remains highly challenging. The one area of car sales in the UK that not only survived the pandemic but increased in sales were plug-in vehicles.

During 2020 SMMT reported that new car registrations fell by around 30 percent with petrol and diesel sales suffering the most. In 2019 plug-in vehicles accounted for around one in 30 sales but during 2020 this increased to one in 10 sales.

Registrations of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles rose 91.2 percent during 2020 with 66,877 units sold. Battery electric vehicles did even better seeing a growth of 185.9 percent during 2020 with 108,205 new registrations.

Choice of cleaner cars has never been a bigger choice of plug-in vehicles with over 100 different models available in the UK, and there are more than 35 on the way in 2021. This is more than the number of new petrol and diesel models expected to hit the UK during the year.

With cleaner car sales expected to continue to rise plug-in and zero-emission cars are going to play an important part in helping UK car sales recover. This is not only good for the industry but the planet and the health of the nation.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “After one of the hardest years in living memory for everyone, reopening showrooms today takes the handbrake off UK auto. With the widest and greenest choice of cars ever seen, unleashing pent up consumer demand can accelerate the industry’s recovery and that of the economy.

“As the automotive sector counts the cost of £22.2 billion lost in turnover during the pandemic, we hope today marks the start of that recovery, as well as giving consumers ever more choice for their motoring needs.”

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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