Expert Blog

Alternatively-fuelled growth

What can we say? We keep linking back to our post, from the beginning of this year, on the things to look out for in 2016 because… well, we were right. They were, and still are, the things to look out for.

One of the items on that list was what we called ‘the balance of car sales’. We highlighted the rise of alternatively-fuelled cars, alongside diesel- and petrol-fuelled cars, in the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ statistics, and promised that we would check back in on their progress. So, now that we have a quarter’s worth of data for this year, what progress has been made?

The latest data reveals that the number of alternatively-fuelled cars has kept on growing. 25,714 of these green machines were registered in the first three months of this year – with 17,418 of these coming in the month of March alone, when the latest number plate was released. This is 23.7 per cent higher than the first three months of last year. AFVs now represent about 3.3 per cent of all new car registrations, which is their highest market share ever.

And it’s not just AFVs. The number of diesel cars registered in the first quarter of this year was 3.9 per cent higher than last year’s figure. The number of petrol cars was 5.1 per cent higher. Britain’s car market is booming.

We’ve tried to capture the extent of this boom in the chart below. It shows the rolling annual total of registrations for every month over the past five years:

You’ll notice that it’s an upwards trend. In fact, in the year to this March there were 2,670,695 registrations, which is the highest total on record. 1,290,607, or 48.3 per cent of these, were diesel. 1,302,384, or 48.8 per cent, were petrol. And 77,704, or 2.9 per cent, were AFVs.

Of course, as we’ve pointed out before, there are caveats that can be slapped on this data. The growth in registration numbers has, in part, been pushed along by people taking on more debt, as well as by the practice of ‘pre-registering’ that garages do to improve their balance sheets.

But it is also a sign of economic confidence and, in the case of AFVs, of the spread of greener motoring. These things ought to be welcomed.

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