More Northamptonshire drivers are going green, according to figures showing a surge in electric vehicle registrations.
Motorists turning their backs on petrol and diesel contributed to a 40 percent national rise in the number of newly registered ultra-low emission vehicles last year.
The RAC said the rise proves an 'electric revolution' is underway across the UK — but the Green Party says more needs to be done to ensure a switch to electric motoring is sustainable long-term.
Department for Transport data shows 6,153 ULEVs were licensed to addresses in Northamptonshire as of September – a 50 percent increase from 4,090 a year earlier.
Of those, 46 percent were registered to companies based in the area, while 3,317 ULEVs were privately owned. Figures also showed:
■ 1,043 licensed in Northampton – a 68 percent increase from a year earlier
■ 420 licensed in Wellingborough – a 79 percent increase
■ 1,705 licensed in Kettering – a 49 percent increase
■ 773 licensed in Daventry – a 70 percent increase
■ 294 licensed in Corby – a 55 percent increase
■ 1,373 licensed in South Northants – a 23 percent increase
The figures show 83,000 ULEVs made up 15 percent of all new registrations nationally between July and September last year, when registrations of petrol and diesel cars fell 41 percent and 66 percent respectively.
Around 645,000 ULEVs were registered across the UK as of September – up from 373,000 the year before.
Designed to emit less than 75g of carbon dioxide from the tailpipe for every kilometre travelled, they include battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell electric vehicles.
The sharp year-on-year rise in ULEVs, which incorporated a record 48,000 registrations made in September alone, came despite an overall drop in new car registrations nationally.
Simon Williams from the RAC said the figures were proof of an 'electric revolution' accelerating electric vehicles becoming more mainstream.
He said a wider choice of vehicles, longer travel ranges and fewer fears about having to recharge mid-journey meant more drivers were becoming more willing to take the 'zero-emission plunge.'
Mr Williams added: "If petrol and diesel prices continue to stay at near record levels those who can afford to will be increasingly tempted to go electric."
The Government has committed to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, and ensuring all new sales are 'zero emissions at the tailpipe' by 2035.
But Caroline Russell, the Green Party's spokeswoman for transport and healthy streets, said the Government and councils must do more to provide a better network of charging points to ensure switching to electric vehicles is viable and efficient.
She added that it would be a mistake to rely on electric vehicles to resolve the climate and air pollution crisis, saying: "It doesn't matter how cars are powered, they still contribute to traffic deaths, congestion and dangerous air pollution from tyre wear."
Of the ULEVs registered in Northamptonshire as of September, 2,909 were battery powered, which are defined as zero emission.
A further 2,978 were plug-in hybrid electric models, which combine an electric motor with a petrol or diesel engine.
More on-street charging points were installed in Northampton in November as part of West Northamptonshire Council's drive to 'go green.'
A Government spokesman said the statistics show drivers are increasingly confident in switching to electric vehicles, adding: "We look forward to seeing this trend continue as we work towards the UK's ambitious net-zero targets."
He said £2.5 billion had been committed to accelerate the rollout of zero emission vehicles and charging infrastructure across the UK.
In 2021, the total number of public chargepoints increased by a third.