The plug-in car market continued to perform strongly in August, increasing sales in traditionally slow month, and topping the 2% market share barrier again - a watershed it broke for the first time last month.
Overall car registrations for August were down 6.4% compared to the same period in 2016, according to figures released today (Tuesday 5th September) by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders - SMMT.
Despite this overall decline - largely attributable to diesel's continued demise - the plug-in car market thrived, taking a 2.2% market share, matching last month's record. Pure electric model registrations increased more than 60% compared to August 2016, while PHEV registrations also grew by almost 40%.
The number of cars eligible for the UK Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) increased almost 50% compared to last year. Registrations of PiCG-eligible models for 2017 to date is still up 20% compared to the first eight months of 2016.
August saw a high percentage of plug-in registrations qualify for the PiCG at 96% - up from last month's 93.5%. This indicates more lower-cost models being sold, since the main criteria a car will not qualify for the grant is if it costs more than £60,000 - rather than on the issues of electric range and CO2 emissions.
In total, more than 1,600 plug-in cars were registered in August 2017, bringing the total figure to more than 111,000 plug-in cars on UK roads according to SMMT figures.
SMMT plug-in car registrations
The average number of plug-in cars registered for 2017 is more than 3,400 per month, compared to 2016's average of just over 3,000. The overall market share sits at an average of 1.8% too, compared to 2016's 1.4%.
Both of last year's figures are for 12-months, compared to an average over eight months for 2017 so far. The rolling 12 month total is an average of more than 3,450 monthly registrations, at an overall market share of 1.6%.
Vehicle sales in August are normally slow as new car buyers wait for the new registration plate in September. Despite this, the car market declined compared to last year, primarily because of diesel's poor performance.
Registrations of diesel-powered cars fell 21.3% compared to last year, while petrol cars increased 3.8% and alternatively fuelled vehicles - which includes both plug-in models and conventional hybrids - increased more than 58%.
What is clear, especially when considering the last few months' sets of registration figures too, is that buyer's confidence in diesel has been dramatically hit by elements including the VW Emissions Scandal, and potential clean air zone and air quality plans.
What is important is that car makers build enough alternatively fuelled models to fill a potential vacuum in the UK car market that is beginning to appear after consecutive months of diesel decline.
There are a number of plug-in models on the UK market, but supply needs to match demand, particularly considering demand is likely to increase thanks to diesel scrappage schemes running to the end of the year by a number of car brands.