ALMOST twice as many electric vehicles have been sold in Northern Ireland this year than in 2019, government figures have revealed,
In the first nine months of this year, some 1,052 plug-in vehicles were registered – an 82 per cent increase on the whole of last year, with three months’ sales still to be reported.
The growth is seen as particularly significant as it came during the Covid pandemic, which saw a steep decline in overall sales of petrol and diesel cars in the north – down 34.6 per cent for the 12 months to September.
And the Northern Ireland Electric Vehicle Owners (NIEVO) group, which obtained the separate regional figures from the UK Department for Transport, says the Executive must improve the public charging network to cope with the sales boom and anticipate growing demand for the infrastructure.
NIEVO (www.nievo.org) co-founder Mark McCall said: “Our members are growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress around our public charging network.
“As we head for a 100 per cent increase in sales this year compared to last, the steep decline of the service must be arrested and our Assembly needs to step in to ensure that a network that’s fit for purpose is provided for EV drivers in Northern Ireland.”
Co-founder Darren Henderson added: “We urge Stormont to convene a cross-department meeting early in the new year to set in motion plans for change. Our early lead in EV charging has been squandered and after years of neglect urgent action is now required. The change to sustainable transport is well under way and will only accelerate as more people move to the superior driving experience and lower running costs of an EV.”
The rolling sales total for the 12 months to September this year (the latest available quarter) was 1,154 vehicles (this includes fully electric models and plug-in hybrids).
The biggest seller was the plug-in hybrid version of the BMW 3 series, of which 131 were registered. The rest of the top five were all-electric – the Jaguar I-Pace (108), Nissan Leaf (103), Renault Zoe (94) and Audi e-tron (89) – showing that buyers are increasingly turning their back on the combustion engine.
There are more than 4,000 plug-in vehicles in Northern Ireland and this figure is set to increase rapidly.
The government has announced the end of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030.