Electric vehicles sales surged to a record in the third quarter of 2017, due mainly to strong demand in China.

Sales of battery electric vehicles and plug in hybrids passed 287,000 units in the three months ended 30 September, 63% higher year on year and 23% quarter on quarter, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report. China accounted for more than half of global sales as its market for electric cars doubled amid government efforts to curb pollution.

"The Chinese government is very focused on pushing up EV sales," Aleksandra O'Donovan, advanced transport analyst at BNEF and one of the authors of the report, told Bloomberg's news service. "One reason for that is the local pollution levels in the cities, and a second is for China to build domestic heroes to compete internationally in this market."

The reprot said BNEF expected global EV sales to pass 1m units this year for the first time. The market for electrified transport is starting to pick up speed as charging infrastructure becomes more accessible and manufacturers roll out models with longer driving ranges.

Europe was the second-biggest market in the third quarter for EVs, with 24% of sales, followed by North America.

The rising volumes in China are supported by government incentives.

"The national subsidies can make EVs up to 40% cheaper than regular internal combustion cars," O'Donovan told Bloomberg.