Take-up of ultra low emissions vehicles (ULEVs) is soaring, according to the Department for Transport.

Its latest figures show 9,657 ULEVs were registered in the UK in the last quarter (April to June), an increase of 49% on the same period last year and 253% on two years before.

The rise comes following the extension of the plug-in car and van grant scheme, allowing more than 100,000 additional drivers to benefit until at least 2018.

In addition to the grant extension, the government is spending £600m in this parliament to support the rise in ULEVs to achieve its target for almost all cars and vans to be zero-emission by 2050.

DfT says the move to electric vehicles will help the UK cut emissions by 80% by 2050.

Roads minister John Hayes said: “I am delighted to see more drivers than ever are choosing electric vehicles. As awareness of the benefits grows, even more motorists will buy these cleaner, greener vehicles, which are cheaper to run.

“These statistics show our investment is making a real difference in encouraging people to choose electric and help protect the environment.”

Poppy Welch, Head of Go Ultra Low, added: “More and more motorists are embracing this new, green technology and helping Britain lead the global low emissions race.

“Electric vehicles have clear advantages, including low running costs and free parking in many locations, which is why it is no surprise they are becoming increasingly popular.”

The figures also show the total number of vehicles registered in the quarter was 805,000, a 2% increase on the same quarter last year and above 800,000 for the first time since 2003.