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Growth of demand for electric cars in the UK

Several manufacturers have invested heavily in developing low-emission vehicles.

Pure electric cars have no tailpipe emissions (Fiona Hanson/PA)
Pure electric cars have no tailpipe emissions (Fiona Hanson/PA)

Jaguar Land Rover has announced it is to build a range of electric cars at its Castle Bromwich plant in the UK as concern over emissions has sparked a growth in popularity for alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) in recent years.

Tens of thousands of motorists have switched from conventional models to choose cars which are fully or partially powered by electricity.

The Volkswagen emissions scandal, which began in September 2015, has contributed to many drivers shunning diesel cars because of their NOx pollution.

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Greenpeace activists hold up a banner outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London after the Volkswagen emissions scandal (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Electric cars generally cost more than petrol and diesel models due to having a battery, but the purchase of 180,000 low emissions cars has been subsidised by the Government’s plug-in car grant.

Just one car – the Mitsubishi i-MiEV – was eligible for the scheme when it was launched in 2011.

But several manufacturers have invested heavily in developing low-emission vehicles, meaning there are now more than 350 models available to UK car buyers, including 44 plug-ins.

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A Toyota Prius hybrid car behind a Toyota Auris (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Toyota began producing the Auris Hybrid at its manufacturing plant in Derbyshire in 2010.

This was replaced by another hybrid car – the Touring Sports variant of the Corolla – in January.

Nissan has built its electric Leaf car in Sunderland since 2013, while production of a fully electric version of the Mini begins this year in Oxford.

Pure electric cars are wholly driven by an electric motor using energy stored in batteries, and do not produce emissions from the tailpipe.

Hybrid vehicles – some of which can be plugged in to charge directly – have both a combustion engine and an electric motor.

Pure electrics can only be driven as far as their battery allows, leading to cases of range anxiety as drivers fear they will be unable to complete their journey.

A study for motoring research charity the RAC Foundation found that growth in electric car use could be stalled by limitations in the public charging network.

The mass market appeal of ultra-green vehicles may be restricted without widespread, reliable and easy-to-use charging points, the report warned.

In July last year the Government published plans to boost charging infrastructure, including the installation of hundreds of thousands more charge points.

It also announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.

The market share of AFVs grew from 4.6% in 2017 to 6.0% last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

But demand fell for the first time in more than two years last month.

This followed the Government’s decision to slash the plug-in car grant in October last year, meaning hybrid models are no longer eligible for the scheme.

The Department for Transport responded by stating it is “focusing on the cleanest, zero-emission models”.

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