THE number of "green" cars and vehicles registered in Southampton and Hampshire is on the rise, new figures have revealed.

Low-emission vehicles are growing in popularity with a significant increase in the number of vehicles registered, new data shows.

Figures from the Department for Transport figures show that the number of low-emission vehicles registered in Southampton rose by 45 per cent in the year to the end of September - a rise from 255 to 370 cars.

For the same period the figure rose 36 per cent in Hampshire - an increase from 3,938 to 5,359 vehicles.

There are now over 50,000 low-emission vehicles registered in the South East - the highest of any region in the UK - compared to 6.4m vehicles in total.

Reports also show that new diesel car registrations during the third quarter of the year declined by 16 per cent compared to the same period in 2018.

These low-emission vehicles include pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids and extended range electric vehicles which emit less than 75g of CO2 from every km driven.

While new low-emission vehicles registered rose by 39 per cent, there were 1 per cent fewer new motorvehicles registered, compared to the same period last year.

Commenting on the figures, Green Party member and environmental campaigner, Katherine Barbour, said: “It’s good news that there has been an increase in electric car use. However, I think the direction of travel should be moving away from cars and towards public transport and walking to help the environment.”

The increase in electric car use comes as car maker Tesla announced plans to set up in Southampton.

The California-based manufacturer – whose new Model 3 has a waiting list of would-be UK buyers – intends to open a service centre in the city.

The news came after businesses and public bodies in Southampton signed a Green City Charter pledging to improve air quality and address the threat of climate change.

Tesla, headed by outspoken chief executive Elon Musk, is the world’s best-selling manufacturer of plug-in electric cars, which come with a price tag of at least £38,000.

Its website shows a Southampton service centre as “coming soon”, although the company says it has no information about where and when.

As previously reported by the Daily Echo Richard Symons, whose New Milton showroom R Symons is thought to have the largest stock of second hand Teslas in Europe, welcomed the news. He said: “It would be a good idea. There’s enough demand for servicing in Hampshire."