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EV growth continues to buck the trend

The UK's plug-in car market continues to buck the market trend, with growth of 32% reported for October's registrations by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) against an industry total of -3%.

The relatively strong electric vehicle performance means that plug-in models made up 3.1% of total registrations in October, the second highest market split ever, behind only August 2018's 4.2%.

Pure-EVs saw growth of 87% compared to October 2017, with 1,256 units registered during the month, while PHEV registrations increased 19%, made up of 3,448 registrations.

October's figures mean that 2018's electric vehicle sales have now surpassed last year's figure, with 49,802 EVs registered in 2018 to the end of last month. In comparison, the 2017 finished with 47,402 EVs sold.

To put the performances into perspective, the registrations of new diesel models in the UK continue to slump, with October's total of more than 49,000 sales down more than 21% on 2017's figure - a month where diesel's decline was already well established. October was the 19th consecutive month where diesel sales have dropped.

Petrol continues to pick up some of diesel's units, along with AFVs, and saw growth of 7% compared to last year. The performance of petrol, hybrid, and electric vehicles is not enough to reverse the drop in consumer confidence in diesel, with the total market -2.9% for October 2018, and -7.2% for the year to date.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: "VED upheaval, regulatory changes and confusion over diesel have all made their mark on the market this year so it's good to see plug-in registrations buck the trend. Demand is still far from the levels needed to offset losses elsewhere, however, and is making government's decision to remove purchase incentives even more baffling.

"We've always said that world-class ambitions require world-class incentives and, even before the cuts to the grant, those ambitions were challenging. We need policies that encourage rather than confuse. Government's forthcoming review of WLTP's impact on taxation must ensure that buyers of the latest, cleanest cars are not unfairly penalised else we will see older, more polluting cars remain on the road for longer."