RAC Cars News


Plug-in cars hit record sales levels in 2016

By raccars Published

BMW i8

The latest data from the Go Ultra Low campaign group on the sale of electric cars this year.

Registrations of plug-in vehicles went up by almost a third in the first six months of 2016, according to the latest figures.

The Go Ultra Low campaign group announced that registrations increased by 31.8 per cent this year compared to the first six months of 2015.

Between January and June this year, 19,252 plug-in vehicles were bought compared to 14,612 in 2015, an increase of 4,640. March was also the best month ever for take-up of the cars, followed by June.

A total of 7,440 electric plug-in vehicles were registered in March. It is believed that this number was helped by the ‘16’ registration launch. In June, 3,196 cars were registered.

Poppy Welch, Go Ultra Low’s head, said that the uptake of electric vehicles is being boosted as drivers realise the rewards of electric motoring. These include a reduction in environmental impact, cheap road tax (Excise Duty) and low fuel costs.

John Hayes, the transport minister, said he was ‘delighted’ with the booming number of drivers choosing ‘cleaner, greener’ cars. He also pointed out that more than 18,000 UK jobs are supported by the low-emission sector.

Plug-in electric cars explained

These cars can be powered just by an electric, battery-driven motor that is recharged using a cable at home or using a public charging station. The range of the vehicle is limited by the amount of charge the battery can hold.

Charging the battery can take a while but the reward is not having to pay road tax as there are no damaging emissions to calculate, and users say they have found electric cars to be far cheaper to run than standard vehicles.

An alternative to the pure electric motor option is a hybrid vehicle that also has an internal combustion, or traditional engine. This means that drivers do not have to contend with range limitations.

The traditional engine tops up the battery of these plug-in cars, or they can be charged the same fashion as a purely electric vehicle. This means that it is possible to avoid the use of the standard combustion engine if the driver stays within the battery’s range.

Most popular plug-in cars

The best-selling plug-in car of 2016 so far is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, according to the figures for the first half of the year. The Outlander can drive 32 miles on electric power alone but, in addition to a pair of motors, it also has a 2.0 petrol engine.

The 4x4 SUV can return, on average, 156.9mpg and has standard equipment including automatic lights, rear parking sensors, footwell illumination and cruise control.

Prices for the Outlander start at £31,749 and rise to £42,999, including the money-saving plug-in grant from the Government.

The Nissan LEAF, meanwhile, was the best-selling pure electric plug-in model in the first half of 2016. There were 2,336 registrations for the small family hatchback which is also eligible for the plug-in car grant.

Prices for the Nissan start at £16,530 and rise to £22,230 if the car’s battery is paid for monthly on a lease, or between £21,530 and 27,230 if the battery is included. The LEAF comes complete with pedestrian vehicle sound, to provide a warning of its presence in the absence of engine noise.

LEAF buyers are offered a choice of two different batteries; 24kWh and 30kWH. The first offers a maximum 124-mile range, whilst the second can travel for up to 155 miles without charging.

Maximum distances will also depend on a range of factors, including driving style, terrain, temperature, weight being carried and the equipment being used in the car’s cabin.

Another top performer in the plug-in car market includes the BMW i8 sports coupe, which comes complete with gullwing doors, plenty of power and four-wheel-drive capabilities.

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