Press release: the cities seeing surging ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) ownership since 2018

  • Alex Buttle
  • 13th January 2020

Exeter is the UK’s greenest motoring hotspot, with the fastest growth in ULEV ownership since 2018, up more than 150%, according to DVLA registration data analysed by Motorway.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) submission was made by Motorway.co.uk to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in December 2019, requesting the most up-to-date figures on Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEVs) registered in the UK. ULEV figures include all-electric vehicles, electric range-extender vehicles and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

The latest figures*, broken down by region and local authority, reveals the total number of ULEVs registered in the Exeter local authority, as of Q3 2019, was 1,194. This compares to just 464 in Q3 2018; that’s an increase of 157%. Next on the list is Warwick, where the take-up of ULEVs has more than doubled (128%) over the same period.

ULEV is the term used to describe any vehicle that uses low carbon technologies, emits less than 75g of CO2/km from the tailpipe and is capable of operating in zero tailpipe emission zone for a range of at least 10 miles (SMMT). ULEVs range from pure electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles, to plug-in hybrids and extended range electric vehicles.

According to FOI data, seven of the top ten local authorities for ULEV registrations since 2018, are London boroughs, with Newham and Waltham Forest seeing annual growth of 114% and 82% respectively. At the bottom of the green motoring table are Sunderland and Wychavon, a district in Worcestershire, where ULEV numbers have grown less than 7% over the past 12 months.

The following table shows the ten local authorities that have seen the fastest growth in ULEV registrations, 2019 vs 2018.


Local Authority
Number of ULEVs registered (Q3-2018)Number of ULEVs registered (Q3-2019)% Increase in ULEVs 
Exeter4641,194157.3%
Warwick414943127.8%
Newham307657114.0%
Waltham Forest33060282.4%
Redbridge52594880.6%
Islington5701,02680.0%
Tower Hamlets5591,00379.4%
South Northamptonshire32057178.4%
Barking & Dagenham25544976.1%
Enfield54995874.5%

The following table shows the ten local authorities – excluding London boroughs – that have seen the fastest growth in ULEV registrations, 2019 vs 2018.


Local Authority
Number of ULEVs registered (Q3-2018)Number of ULEVs registered (Q3-2019)% Increase in ULEVs 
Exeter4641,194157.3%
Warwick414943127.8%
South Northamptonshire32057178.4%
Weymouth 589665.5%
Broxbourne13322065.4%
Bury26242060.3%
Mendip22735757.3%
Mid Sussex42466556.8%
Stevenage9514855.8%
Solihull1,4812,29655.0%

The following table shows the ten local authorities that have seen the slowest growth in ULEV registrations, 2019 vs 2018.


Local Authority
Number of ULEVs registered (Q3-2018)Number of ULEVs registered (Q3-2019)% Increase in ULEVs 
Sunderland3403626.5%
Wychavon4444746.8%
Milton Keynes6,4456,8967.0%
Copeland78847.7%
Barrow-in-Furness 52567.7%
North Warwickshire1651809.1%
Huntingdonshire7828569.5%
Neath Port Talbot909910.0%
Stratford-on-Avon37141411.6%
Stoke-on-Trent31735712.6%

Regions

Renfrewshire is the most prolific region for ULEV registrations with green motor ownership rising by  almost three quarters since 2018, up 71.1% between Q3 2018 and Q3 2019. This compares with growth of just 5.8% in the Gloucestershire region over the same period.

The following table shows the top regions (excluding London) for ULEV ownership, 2019 vs 2018.

RegionNumber of ULEVs registered (Q3-2018)Number of ULEVs registered (Q4-2019)% Increase in ULEVs 
Renfrewshire1,8573,17871.1%
Devon1,8343,05366.5%
Essex2,5543,74346.6%
South Yorkshire2,6233,828 45.9%
Warwickshire1,7002,47645.6%

Alex Buttle, director and spokesperson at Motorway comments:

“These figures show a huge disparity between areas that are embracing greener motoring and areas where take-up of ULEVs is in the slow lane. They highlight the need to focus not just at a national level, but also to confront issues at a regional level in areas where ULEV take-up is lagging behind. The government is now under tremendous pressure to encourage motorists to move to electric cars and other forms of ultra-low emissions vehicles in time for the 2040 switchover. 

“According to recent SMMT figures, 10% of UK new car sales are now in the alternative fuel categories (including electric and hybrid variants combined), however, pure electric registrations still only make up around 2% of the total number of new car sales. 

“While they are cheap to run and most owners are keen to drive less-polluting cars, too many people who rely on their vehicles for work and leisure, are holding off making the switch while there are question marks around the charging infrastructure and the initial outlay of moving to an EV.

“Now that we’re leaving the EU on 31st January, the government can finally turn its attention back to domestic matters, and hopefully that includes ensuring momentum is not lost on our “Road to Zero” emissions. 

“With consumer confidence low and with the domestic auto industry suffering, is now the time for the government to introduce EV purchase subsidies to help consumers make the leap to electric? The ball is firmly in its court.”