Scotland is continuing to lead the way when it comes to buying electric cars – despite concerns over a lack of charging points.
Six Scottish regions have been listed in the UK top 20 for used electric and hybrid sales, with Argyll and Bute coming second in the whole of the UK.
The figures have led to the country being hailed as the UK’s “eco champion”, with Angus, North Ayrshire, Edinburgh, the Borders and East Renfrewshire also outperforming other parts of the country.
The upsurge in use of electric vehicles (EV) is a key target of the Scottish Government who have pledged to phase out new petrol and diesel cars by 2032 – eight years ahead of the UK Government.
This has led to investment in charging points north of the border, with almost 1000 now in place across the country.
However, campaigners argue that more work needs to be done to ensure the 2032 target is met.
John Bynorth, of Environment Protection Scotland, said that “range anxiety”, the perception that drivers may run out of charge before completing their journey, is “the biggest hurdle to overcome”.
He added: “There have been positive announcements, such as the plans to turn the A9 into an ‘Electric Highway’ by introducing more charging points, but there remains a pressing need to ensure the number of places where motorists can plug in and top up their EV charge keeps up with demand.
“Huge investment is needed, particularly in developing the network of rapid chargers so motorists will be able to stop and charge up for around 20 minutes or less, and then carry on their journeys.
“Range anxiety can be addressed by local authorities ensuring there are enough rapid plug-in charge points so that motorists will be able to plug in at shopping centres, outside libraries, in car-parks and outside their workplaces.
“Cutting down on planning red-tape and the costs faced by local authorities for installing charging points would also improve the ability of local authorities to roll out charging points between now and 2032.
“Decisions need to be taken now to ensure there are enough charging points to cope with demand in the coming decades.”
The figures, released by car data firm Cazana, show that Argyll and Bute accounted for 4.5 per cent of UK sales – just behind Kent which took the top spot with 4.8 per cent.
This has been linked to the area investing in several new charging points in recent years, particularly in rural areas. For example, the Isle of Mull now has five charging points around the island.
Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “These figures clearly show that strong political commitment and real investment on the ground really do influence the choices people make.
“With concern high over the health impact of air pollution from cars and traffic, the largest source of climate change emissions, electric vehicles are clearly a major part of how we need to transform transport in Scotland.
“The Scottish Government’s commitment to phase out the need for petrol and diesel cars, together with investment which has seen the number of public charging points in Scotland rise, mean there can be no doubt that Scotland is serious about electric cars and the public and companies are responding by buying them in ever increasing numbers, including in a healthy and growing second hand market.”
Tom Wood, CEO of Cazana, added: “Our results show that Scotland is leading the way when it comes to sales of electric and hybrid cars.
“Our data puts paid to the stereotype that it’s southern English cities that have the monopoly on green technology, and it’s great to see Scottish drivers leading the UK with low emission cars.”