The number of electric and plug-in hybrid cars registered in 2021 is expected to exceed the overall number sold in the previous decade, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The industry trade body records the number of new cars registered, and is continuing to see a sharp increase in the number of people choosing a plug-in model. The SMMT is now predicting that around 287,000 zero-emission capable cars will be registered during all of 2021. In contrast, a total of 271,962 electric and plug-in hybrids were sold between 2010 and 2019.

Combined, these electrified models are now outselling new diesel cars and roughly account for around one in six new vehicles. By the end of 2022, the SMMT predicts EVs will be more popular on their own than diesel cars.

This trend is reflected in the latest new car statistics from SMMT, revealed today, which showed sales of electric cars increased by 73.1 per cent in October, while the overall market slumped by 24.9 per cent. Roughly one in four new cars are also now available as either an EV or a plug-in hybrid, too.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “As Britain hosts COP26 and seeks to align the world in committing to achieving net zero and limiting the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, our latest outlook shows the UK experiencing a surge in plug-in vehicle uptake.

“Massive investment by industry as well as long standing government incentives have seen us go from just 188 new plug-in cars in 2010, to almost 300,000 in 2021.

“To achieve net zero by the desired date, however, uptake rates must continue to grow. This requires ongoing incentives to help consumers make the switch and significant investment in public charging infrastructure. Backed by the ingenuity and innovation of the automotive sector, we can then deliver zero-emission mobility that is accessible and affordable for all.”