Eco-vehicles double in Suffolk but remain only fraction of total on roads

Suffolk has seen a rise in green car ownership, but the total remains fractional compared to the amo

Suffolk has seen a rise in green car ownership, but the total remains fractional compared to the amount of conventionally powered vehicles on the road Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Eastern Daily Press � 2011

Ownership of plug-in and ultra low emission vehicles has doubled across Suffolk in the last two years – but the figure remains a fraction of overall registrations.

A total of 1,148 plug-in cars, micro-cars and lorries had been registered by June 2018, compared to 586 at the same point of 2016, while the number of licensed ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) went from 515 to 1,245.

Only 129 green vehicles were on the roads of Suffolk at the end of 2011, compared to the latest Department for Transport (DfT) sum of 2,393.

But the number accounts for just 0.5% of the 516,000 vehicles registered in the county by the end of last year – and in terms of embracing eco-friendly modes of transport, Suffolk lags behind similarly sized Northamptonshire, where 3,519 plug-in vehicles and ULEVs are currently licensed.

Suffolk Coastal has the county’s highest number of plug-in vehicles and ULEVs by local authority area, followed by St Edmundsbury, Mid Suffolk, Babergh, Waveney, Ipswich and Forest Heath.

The government’s Road to Zero Strategy aims for at least half of new cars to be ultra low emission by 2030, before the UK ends sales of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans 10 years later.

A report in 2015 found electric vehicle owners were predominantly middle-aged, well-educated, affluent men, living in urban areas with households of two or more cars and the ability to charge at home.

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Although the main motivation for buying an electric vehicle was to save money on fuel, the DfT found high purchase prices, perceived lack of public charging infrastructure and range limitations to be the top three barriers to switching from conventionally powered engines.

Last month, the government cut grants for buying the lowest emission electric vehicles from £4,500 to £3,500 and removed incentives for less efficient models entirely as part of changes to “reflect the recent reductions in the price of electric vehicles”.

The grants were introduced in 2011 to help stimulate the early market for ultra-low emission vehicles – so far supporting the purchase of more than 160,000 new cars.

A new £2m fund will contribute 20% to the cost of e-cargo bikes, up to the first £5,000 of any purchase price, while £400m will go towards the roll-out of charging point infrastructure.

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