Sales of electric vehicles in the U.K. surged to record levels in first-quarter 2016 with sales soaring 23% year-on-year to 10,496 units, equivalent to one buyer every 13 minutes.
The industry’s Go Ultra Low organization says the 3-month result represents the best period of EV sales since the government’s plug-in car grants were introduced in January 2011.
It says the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show plug-in car sales this year are on track to exceed last year’s record total, when more plug-ins were registered than the previous five years combined.
The number of vehicles registered using the plug-in car grant has surpassed 58,000, nearly triple the amount registered at the start of last year.
Transport Minister Andrew Jones says the U.K. is a world leader in the uptake of low-emissions vehicles. “Our long-term economic plan is investing £600 million ($850 million) by 2020 to improve air quality, create jobs and achieve our goal of every new car and van in the U.K. being ultra-low-emission by 2040,” Jones says in a statement.
March sales of 7,144 EVs was a record, topping the previous high of 6,104 recorded in March 2015.
Go Ultra Low Head Poppy Welch says the growth shows EVs are becoming a natural choice for increasing numbers of new-car buyers. “It’s no longer a question of will more motorists choose electric, but when,” Welch says.
In the past 12 months, the U.K. ranks as the biggest major EV market and second only to the Netherlands, with 28,715 new plug-in cars representing one-fifth of the European Union’s collective EV sales.