Nissan LEAFUK and EU governments have come in for criticism over their green motoring policies.

UK announcements and tax costs are confusing car buyers, depressing sales and potentially slowing a switch to greener models, says the RAC.

The Government yesterday published its annual vehicle licensing statistics for 2017 and that report shows a 6% drop in first time registrations, down to 3.1 Million vehicles.

Cars made up over 80% of first time registrations or 2.5 Million while the 360,000 vans amounted to just under 12%.

That raised the total number of vehicles known to be on UK roads. England accounted for 32.2 Million, Scotland 3.0 Million, Wales 1.9 Million and Northern Ireland 1.1 Million.

Last year, 53,000 EVs were registered, some 27% more than the previous year but it did not see a big rise in the greenest petrol cars while diesels dipped 17% and the middle ground expanded by ordinary petrol models.

RAC roads policy spokesman Nicholas Lyes said, “These statistics appear to confirm an uncomfortable truth – that new car registrations are falling because there is increasing confusion over what vehicles drivers should opt for next.

“The risk is that owners are holding on to their older vehicles for longer. This is bad news as far as efforts to improve local air quality is concerned as like-for-like newer models have lower emissions.”

He went on, “As we feared, it also seems to be the case that the changes to Vehicle Excise Duty brought in last year may be actively putting people off choosing an ultra-low emission vehicle.

“While drivers of electric vehicles benefit from paying no vehicle tax, those that opt for new ultra-low-emission vehicles now pay more after the first year than they did previously, which arguably doesn’t send the right message to prospective buyers looking to do the right thing.”

On the Continent, there is still serious underinvestment in electric vehicle recharging infrastructure across Europe, says the European Environment Agency.

Only one in three EU member states is providing incentives.

According to the EEA report, specific incentives for electric vehicle charging points were found in only 10 out of 28 EU countries.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) cautions that investments need to be stepped up, as future reductions of CO2 emissions from cars and vans are strongly dependent on increased sales of electric and other alternatively-powered vehicles.

This will only happen with an EU-wide roll-out of recharging and refuelling infrastructure. As the EEA pointed out in its report: “sufficient charging infrastructure is required to give people the confidence that fully electric vehicles will reliably meet their travel needs and help reduce anxiety linked with possible limitations in range.”

In this respect, the Directive on Alternative Fuel Infrastructure (DAFI) set clear objectives for the 28 member states already back in 2014. So far, however, the implementation of DAFI by national governments has been poor.

“Even though all manufacturers are expanding their portfolios of electric cars, we unfortunately see that market penetration of these vehicles is quite weak and patchy across the EU,” stated ACEA Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert. “Consumers looking for an alternative to diesel often opt for petrol or hybrid vehicles, but are not yet making the switch to electrically-chargeable cars on a large scale. This new EEA report confirms that a dense EU-wide network of recharging infrastructure is an absolute must if we want consumers throughout the EU to really embrace electric vehicles.” By Robin Roberts Miles Better News Agency

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