Fears grow about net zero driving target as clock ticks down to 2030 engine ban

New cars sold in the UK jumped last month but fears are mounting that unless the UK decides to drive a lot less, it will struggle to meet its net-zero ambitions.

A total of 74,441 new cars were registered last month, up 26.2 per cent on the same period last year, industry body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

Global supply chain shortages, particularly of computer chips, has acted as brake on car makers’ ability to meet demand, the SMMT said.

It forecast that registrations across the whole of 2023 will reach 1.79 million, up 11.1 per cent on 2021.
But while registrations of hybrid electric vehicles increased by 40 per cent, the market share for pure electric vehicles was 16.5 per cent, down from 17.1 per cent last month. Only Tesla’s Model Y all-electric featured in the top 10 sellers list.

Steve Gooding, of the RAC Foundation, said: “This rise in overall sales looks like good news. But in terms of the cars we are choosing to buy, the battery-electric share of the market is disappointing given the role electric vehicles are set to play in meeting our climate change objectives.

“Unless we choose to drive less, by the end of 2030 we estimate that well over a third (37 per cent) of all miles driven by cars must be zero emission from the exhaust. At the moment it is under two per cent, which suggests a far more rapid take-up of pure electric models is needed.”

The increased sales of hybrid vehicles will do little to help meet environmental targets the RAC has warned. Its own study found hybrid vehicle drivers used the petrol engine too much and the electric drive too little.

“For plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technology to make a greater impact, there would need to be some large changes. For example, if new hybrids came with software that strongly compelled electric use, had a shorter petrol engine range or a greater electric range, or, for fleets, were provided with incentives to drivers to maximise electric operation, progress in this direction …


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