How many electric cars are there in Luton?

I recently read a report that Luton Council has secured funding to provide 165 more electric car charging points around the town by 2025. In response to this, one online commenter wondered if this was money well spent, asking how many electric cars (EVs) there were in Luton anyway?

In some ways the question misses the point, because charging points are being installed in anticipation of a major shift towards greener motoring. In time petrol and diesel cars will be phased out entirely, and Luton needs to keep ahead of this change, same as everywhere else. But it also made me curious – how many EVs are there in the town? And how is that number growing over time?

This information is available from the Department of Transport, as the DVLA keeps vehicle licencing statistics. Looking at the latest dataset for 2022, we can see that there were a total of 523 electric cars in the town. While the numbers are low, it’s worth remembering that there were only 13 electric cars in 2012!

Looking at a trend graph, we can also see growth accelerating dramatically from 2020. Numbers were rising slowly, for private cars and business fleets. In 2020 that changed, as more electric cars came to market and charging became easier. As elsewhere, the number of EVs started to rise.

Let’s put this in perspective though. Luton has a lot of cars – 88,000 in total. That means that less than 1% of the town’s cars are electric. That rapid growth needs to continue for many more years before we start making a difference to air pollution and carbon emissions.

It’s also important that electric cars are replacing petrol and diesel cars, rather than just adding to the total. We need to see the number of petrol and diesel cars falling. So far there is no sign of that.

Over the last decade, the number of diesels on our roads rose from 19,900 to 33,800, and this is the source of Luton’s air pollution problem. There are now almost six thousand hybrids on the road that are making a difference, but we need a lot more electric cars before we start to see any improvement!

If we want to see an improvement to traffic as well, then it’s a reduction in car numbers overall that we should be after. That means more bus transport, and more walking and cycling too.


Published by Jeremy Williams

Jeremy is an author and activist based in Luton. He writes serious books for adults, less serious books for children. His blog, The Earthbound Report, has been recognised as the best green blog in the UK by Vuelio and the UK Blog Awards.

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