More Oxford drivers are going green as the number of electric vehicles registered in the area surged last year, figures show.

Department for Transport statistics show 837 ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) were licensed in Oxford at the end of last year – 211 more than at the end of 2019, when there were 626.

The figures include battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and fuel cell electric vehicles.

Of the additions, the vast majority were registered to private keepers, while nine were to the addresses of local firms.

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The DfT said a vehicle’s address does not necessarily reflect where it is located, especially for large fleets kept by companies for leasing or rentals.

Overall, ULEVs still only accounted for around 1.5 per cent of all vehicles licensed in Oxford at the end of 2020 – slightly above the UK average of 1.1 per cent.

It comes as Oxford is set to get Europe's most powerful electric vehicle charging hub, which will be constructed at Redbridge Park and Ride on Abingdon Road.

The Government has committed to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, and ensuring all new sales are 'zero emissions at the tailpipe' by 2035.

In the DfT figures, a ULEV is defined as a vehicle with reported tailpipe CO2 emissions of fewer than 75 grams per kilometre, which means not all of them would meet this new requirement.

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Across the UK, around 431,600 ULEVs were licensed at the end of 2020 – an increase of 162,300 over the year.

The majority of the spike – around 101,800 – were company-registered.

In March, the Government cut grants for electric car buyers from £3,000 to £2,500 and lowered the cap of eligible cars to £35,000, down from £50,000.

"With the climate emergency worsening, increases in electric vehicle sales are always welcome,” said Kerry McCarthy, Labour's shadow minister for green transport.

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“However, rather than encouraging this trend, the Government seems to be doing all it can to stifle progress by slashing subsidies to electric vehicles and failing to set out a roadmap to smoothly transition away from petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.

“We need to see a clear, long-term vision from the Government to support the British car industry, as well as action to support electric vehicle sales, making them affordable to families and rolling out adequate charging infrastructure."

In Oxford, 472 of the ULEVs licensed at the end of the year were battery electric vehicles – defined as zero emission.

A further 265 were plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which combine an electric motor with a petrol or diesel engine.

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Across the UK, 64 per cent of ULEVS registered for the first time last year were battery electric vehicles, while plug-in hybrid electric vehicles accounted for 35 per cent.

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said that more alternative fuel cars were registered across Great Britain for the first time last year, although this includes some types of hybrid vehicles not classed as ULEVs.

“This is proof that more people are moving away from diesel cars, as we build back greener and clean up the air in our towns and cities,” she added.

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