The benefits of the latest combustion engines should not be overlooked in the rush to promote electrified powertrains, Mike Hawes, chairman of the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) has warned.
While acknowledging the dramatic growth in registrations for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric cars in 2017, with figures rising more than 130%, Hawes cautioned that they still represented less than 5% of the total market, suggesting that a transitional period is required.
"The growth in alternatively fuelled registrations is a huge positive, and we need to be at the forefront of new technologies and push hard to be leaders there, but any action needs to be conducted in a sustainable way that takes the consumer and legislation with it,” said Hawes.
"The UK is renowned for its combustion engine technology - at its most extreme, in Formula 1, where the world's most efficient engine is produced in the UK - and it would be crazy to throw that know-how away in a mad dash given the levels of consumer acceptance at the moment. The demand for the alternatives is not on the same level today, and needs to be built in a sustainable fashion."
The Government is proposing to move its grant scheme for electrified vehicles to support battery-electric vehicles only, despite that sector of the market representing less than 1% of the market.
In addition, Hawes said that the SMMT is pushing for UK cities to adopt a uniform approach to creating low emission zones. While individual cities have individual powers to set limits, Hawes said that a “patchwork of regulations” that varied from city to city would damage consumer confidence in the right technologies to purchase, which he argued includes the latest petrol and diesel engines.