Sales of plug-in hybrid vehicles fell by 34.3% in April, a result of the government’s move to abolish its plug-in car grant for everything but pure electric models as well as supply issues.
The figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed that, year-to-date, plug-in hybrid vehicle registrations have dropped by 20.4%.
The government announced in October last year that it would, with immediate effect, pull support for plug-in hybrid vehicles and decrease the subsidy for electric vehicles from £4500 to £3500. However, it has taken a few months for existing orders to be fulfilled to see the full effect of the grant’s removal.
An SMMT spokesman said: “Manufacturers are investing heavily to bring ultra-low and zero-emission cars to market, with some 40 plug-in models now available in showrooms, and over 20 more expected to arrive in 2019.
“However, if this still emerging sector is to reach meaningful levels, measures and incentives that build business and consumer confidence will be vital.”
Another factor affecting plug-in hybrid vehicle uptake is supply issues. The introduction of WLTP testing last September led most plug-in hybrids to be taken off sale, as they were not compliant. A new generation of plug-in hybrids including from Audi and BMW will arrive over the next few months.
Overall, alternatively fuelled vehicle registrations grew by 12.7%, with 10,254 cars sold. Petrol-electric hybrids remained the most popular choice, up 31.1% to 6810 units. Electric cars also saw a strong uplift, from 929 to 1517 units, accounting for 0.9% of the market.
Across the entire new car market, registrations decreased by 4.1% to 161,604 units.
Private registrations fell by 10.3% while fleet demand remained steady, growing 2.9%. Diesel car sales, which have been hit hard over the past 18 months, typically seeing declines of a third, have fallen again but at a slower rate, down 9.4%. Petrol demand also dropped by 3%.
Demand for most vehicle segments decreased, with registrations of popular supermini and small family cars falling most significantly, down 14.1% and 10.6% respectively. Demand for lower-volume luxury saloons and sports cars rose.