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Electric car sales speed up as UK plugs in to global trend

Britain still lags behind, but carmakers anticipate ‘tipping point’ for battery-powered driving

BMW’s i3 electric car, seen with Tower Bridge behind. Photograph: Andrew Winning /Reuters

If you live in west Manchester and have a plug-in electric car, one of the few places you can charge it is the Irlam and Cadishead leisure centre. But since the public point was installed a year ago, only one car has used it, according to centre manager Natalie Wareham.

That may soon change. Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that, while there was just a handful of electric cars on the road three years ago, there are now nearly 10,000, with 1,200 electric vehicles sold in March, compared with 270 in the same month last year. Meanwhile 10,200 hybrid cars – using electricity and petrol or diesel – have been sold in Britain this year, up 45% on last year.

Since 2011, when the government gave a £5,000 grant towards every pure electric car sold, number have been growing, say the carmakers, which now offer 18 models, from the Nissan Leaf, made in Sunderland, to sports cars, estates, vans and other hatchbacks.


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