A record number of new electric cars were registered last month, latest figures show.
he 3,682 registered in January were up a sizeable 36.5pc on the corresponding month last year with electric vehicles (EVs) now accounting for a substantial 13.5pc of cars bought during the month.
And while the motor industry expects continued growth in EV buying as supplies improve, it couches its optimism in a message of caution to Government that taking away purchase supports could hit public confidence.
SIMI Director General, Brian Cooke, referred specifically to the planned gradual withdrawal of purchase grant aid for new electric vehicles from next July and said it could discourage more people from buying.
That warning comes as new SIMI figures show overall car registrations were up 9.4pc (27,364) last month.
Mr Cooke said: “We anticipate continuing growth in the EV market, although this will not only be down to vehicle supply but also to the level of government supports.”
On the one hand, he says that we are still in the early stages of the “EV project” and the recent announcement of increased funding for the national charging infrastructure will help to allay range anxiety concerns and encourage more motorists to consider buying an electric vehicle.
However, he said that this increased investment must not be at the expense of purchase supports.
These, he said, are essential in encouraging the “behavioural change required to convince more consumers to go electric”.
The extension of grants, reduced tolling charges and VRT reliefs, as well as halting the reduction in the benefit-in-kind reliefs, should be on the agenda, he added.
“We recognise that supports cannot remain in place indefinitely. However, any early erosion or reduction in supports could risk EV supply levels and reduce sales growth at a key time in the evolution of market.”
The SIMI figures also show that used-car imports are down 6.3pc to 3,786.
Automatic transmissions have risen in popularity and now account for 58.11pc of cars sold.