One right-hand-drive nation is going in the right direction when it comes to sales of electric vehicles. The UK recorded 10,496 electric vehicle sales during the first quarter of 2016. This was a quarterly record and a 23 percent jump from last year, according to Autocar Professional. March accounted for 7,144 of those vehicles, a monthly record in itself.

In these sales increases we can see the UK government's efforts to spur plug-in vehicle demand via its Plug-In Car Grant finally taking effect. Enacted in 2011, that grant reimburses electric-vehicle buyers for up to 35 percent (with a max of 4,500 pounds, or $6,400) of the price of a plug-in car. The UK has set a goal of having every light-duty vehicle on its roads be "ultra-low emission" by 2040.

The UK's new quarterly sales number is pretty impressive considering there were about 17,000 battery-electric vehicles sold in the first quarter in the US, where there are about five times as many residents. Demand in the UK, which accounts for about a fifth of the European Union's electric-vehicle sales – second in the EU only to the Netherlands – also appears to be a departure from the rest of Western Europe, where plug-in vehicle sales surged in 2015 but are more mixed this year. Autocar Professional's sales statistics come from Go Ultra Low and the UK's Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). They did not break out sales of any particular EV models.

Still, we do know that Western European sales for the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf are up, Tesla Model S demand has grown little, and Volkswagen e-Golf sales are down, according to the European Alternative Fuels Observatory (EAFO). Last year, things were a bit more uniformly positive, as 2015 plug-in vehicle sales jumped more than 80 percent to about 184,000 units.

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