Sales of low emission cars in the UK fell by 11.8% to in June compared to the same period a year ago, according to data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This is the first instance of a decline in sales of electric vehicles in more than two years.

SMMT blamed the fall in sales on the UK’s Government decision to slash subsidies on cars with alternative fuels, including battery electric vehicles and hybrids.

In last year’s budget, the UK Government scrapped a £2,500 subsidy for plug-in hybrid vehicles and also slashed financial assistance for EVs to £3,500 from £4,500.

The fall in demand for alternative fuel vehicles comes as overall sales of new cars continued also decreased by 4.9% to 223,421 units in June this year, compared to the same period 12 months ago.

In addition, June was the fourth consecutive month when overall car sales dropped.

Last month, sales of plug-in hybrid cars dropped by 50.4% to 2,268 units compared to the same period in 2018. Hybrid electric vehicle sales witnessed a 4.7% fall to 8,585 units in June.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Another month of decline is worrying but the fact that sales of alternatively fuelled cars are going into reverse is a grave concern.

“Manufacturers have invested billions to bring these vehicles to market but their efforts are now being undermined by confusing policies and the premature removal of purchase incentives.

“If we are to see widespread uptake of these vehicles, which are an essential part of a smooth transition to zero emission transport, we need world-class, long-term incentives and substantial investment in infrastructure.”

According to statistics released by the trade body, EVs accounted for nearly one in every 17 cars sold in June. To meet the UK’s Government target of net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, the share of EVs needs to rapidly increase, the SMMT claimed.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “The plug-in car grant has supported the purchase of 180,000 new cars with over £700m, including 100,000 plug-in hybrids, and the government is now focusing on the cleanest, zero-emission models.

“That focus has paid off, with registrations of battery electric vehicles up over 60% this year compared to the same period in 2018.”