Sales of pure battery electric new cars outperformed the market last month, new figures show.

Some 26,031 of the vehicles were registered in May, up 6.2% from the same month last year, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

That is compared with a 1.7% year-on-year increase for all types of new cars.

Uptake of new electric cars is being driven by purchases for large fleets, with those volumes rising 10.7%.

Registrations of the vehicles by private buyers declined by 2.0%.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “As Britain prepares for next month’s General Election, the new car market continues to hold steady as large fleets sustain growth, offsetting weakened private retail demand.

“Consumers enjoy a plethora of new electric models and some very attractive offers, but manufacturers can’t sustain this scale of support on their own indefinitely.

“Their success so far should be a signpost for the next government that a faster and fairer transition requires carrots, not just sticks.”

Ian Plummer, commercial director at online vehicle marketplace Auto Trader, said: “The new car market remains sluggish and retail demand has flagged as a dearth of affordable new car models means less choice for consumers, despite fleet buyers underpinning the market.

“Rising new car prices since 2019 mean that even volume brands are suffering as the middle market is hollowed out.

“The share of new models for sale below £20,000 in the past five years has dropped from 17% to just 4%, underlining the pressure on affordability.”

Ben Nelmes, chief executive of green consultancy New AutoMotive, said: “It is great to see tens of thousands more drivers discovering the benefits of going electric.

“A key message from May’s data is that you only find growing car sales where there is a battery.

“Having abandoned diesel, consumers are now shunning petrol cars too.”

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