When plug-in cars first started appearing in the United Kingdom, sales were disappointingly slow. That appears to be changing. Q1 of 2015 saw a whopping 366 percent increase compared to the year before, and now Business Green reports that plug-in sales growth (including plug-in hybrids and pure electrics) for the whole of 2015 came out at 94 percent. (A more detailed breakdown of the figures shows 133 percent growth for plug-in hybrids, 48 percent for pure electrics.)
Of course, when you go from nearly nothing to something, double and even triple digit growth is by no means unheard of. The real proof of the pudding will come if we see growth rates continue as electric vehicles become a significant portion of overall car sales.
Still, there are reasons to be optimistic. More cars are coming on the market. And prices are coming down/range and capabilities are going up. While note launching in the UK yet, the big reveal of the 200 mile, $30,000ish Chevy Bolt at CES yesterday shows that the era of electric cars with mainstream appeal is rapidly approaching.
For now, sales are being boosted by government incentives. And my UK-based brother who just bought a Volvo diesel plug-in hybrid reports that the dealer was quite surprised in his interest in the car's efficiency, not just its tax incentives. But as someone who has recently discovered the joys of driving a plug-in, I am confident that many people who dip their toes in the water will end up never going back—and introducing the idea of electrified mobility to many of their friends and family too.
Of course, car dependency is still car dependency. London's cycling superhighways should get at least as much attention as the UK's electric car sales. But given that cars are not going to disappear overnight, truly low emission vehicles are a wonderful step in the right direction. And knowing that UK power stations slashed emissions 23% in just two years, we can also celebrate the fact that as these car sales grow, the emissions produced to charge them are dropping all the time.