Number of new cars on British roads surges to 12-year high boosted by non-petrol vehicles

The market for alternatively-fuelled vehicles – those powered by anything but petroleum and diesel – grew by 19.9 per cent 

Josie Co
Business Editor
@JosieCox_London
Monday 06 February 2017 11:27
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The market for cars powered by alternative fuels like electricity is now bigger than ever
The market for cars powered by alternative fuels like electricity is now bigger than ever

The number of new cars that hit British roads surged to a 12-year high in January, particularly boosted by vehicles not fuelled by diesel or petrol.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, 174,564 new cars registered on British roads last month, a 2.9 per cent increase on the same month last year and the highest number since 2005.

The market for alternatively-fuelled vehicles – or those powered by anything but petroleum and diesel – grew by 19.9 per cent to take it to a record 4.2 per cent market share.

Diesel registrations, by contrast, fell 4.3 per cent. New petrol car registrations increased by 8.9 per cent.

“The year got off to a good start in the new car market, buoyed by a great range of new models which are safer and cleaner than ever before,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT. “It’s encouraging to see alternatively fuelled vehicles benefiting from this positive growth, reaching a record market share.”

He said that, following record growth in 2016, he expects to see some cooling in the market over the coming months, but added: “Provided interest rates remain low and the economy stable, the market is in a good position to withstand its short-term challenges”.

Late last month, the SMMT warned that a failure to establish proper trade deals after Brexit could damage the UK auto industry “beyond repair”.

Mr Hawes at the time said that the SMMT wants “trade deals but they must be the right deals, not rushed deals”.

“Failure to do so could damage UK automotive manufacturing beyond repair,” he said.

The UK car industry currently accounts for more than £71.6bn in turnover, according to the SMMT, and around 814,000 people are employed across the industry. It accounts for 12% of total UK export of goods.

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