Plug-in car sales have risen by 130% in Britain
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.
Hawes also highlighted that the adoption of the latest, Euro 6 compliant combustion engine technology on some bus routes in London had been proven to dramatically reduce localised pollution levels in recent weeks.