Electric car market statistics

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The electric car market is growing quickly, with nearly 260,000 pure-electric cars on UK roads at the end of May 2021, and more than 535,000 plug-in models if including plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

With increasing consumer demand, greater availability of vehicles and government support, sales of electric vehicles are growing strongly in parallel to the development of UK charging point infrastructure. The profile of new registrations of electric vehicles in the UK since 2012 are shown in the charts below. For clarity when looking at the figures, there are two main types of electric or plug-in vehicle included in the analysis – battery electric vehicle (BEV), which are also referred to as a pure electric vehicle, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

Also charted are the number of models currently available as well as the number of publicly available charging points according to the Zap-Map database.

Third party use: this data can be used by third parties as long as the Next Green Car logo is displayed, the source is attributed to Next Green Car and if online, a link is added back to www.nextgreencar.com

How many electric vehicles have been sold in the UK?

The chart below shows the number of electric cars registered in the UK – as of the end of May 2021 there were more than 515,000 plug-in vehicles with nearly 260,000 BEVs and 280,000 PHEVs registered. Last year saw the biggest annual increase in number of registrations, with more than 175,000 electric vehicles registered showing a growth of 66% on 2019. Last year, despite the coronavirus impact, the chart showed that 2020 was a huge growth year for plug-in vehicles.

Cumulative number of plugins

The chart below shows the number of registrations and market share of plug-in vehicles each month over the past 13 months. Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, sales of all vehicles were hit from mid-March. However, electric vehicles were affected less than other vehicle types, as can be seen by the anomalous market share in April.

Electric vehicle registrations continue to rise in absolute numbers, with 22,975 new registrations in May 2021 (13,120 BEVs and 9,855 PHEVs). The market share last month was 14.7%. Note that, in the UK, March and September are new registration plate months, which accounts for the twice-yearly peaks in sales and drop in market share in these periods.

Number of plugin registrations by month

As shown in the chart below, the number of electric vehicles as a proportion of all new vehicles showed a significant increase in 2020. In 2015 just 1.1% of new vehicles registered had a plug compared to 3.2% in 2019; by the end of December, this figure has accelerated to 10.7% as an average for the year (6.6% BEV and 4.1% PHEV). These numbers reflect both the increase in demand for electric vehicles and the decline in demand for traditional, particularly diesel, vehicles.

Annual plug-in market share of new cars registrations

What are the UK's most popular EV models?

The latest Department for Transport figures available show that Mitsubishi's Outlander PHEV is the most popular plug-in vehicle as of the end of June 2020. With more than 46,400 units sold, it has been the best-selling plug-in car for more than five years, and is considerably ahead of the second most popular plug-in car, the Nissan Leaf.

More than 31,400 Leafs have been sold in the UK however, making it the best-selling pure-EV in the UK, and still comfortably ahead of the BMW 330e in third.

Nissan LEAF most popular EV in UK

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, October 2020.

The established order is being shaken up by the Tesla Model 3. Having gone on sale shortly before the middle of 2019, by the end of the year it had become the best-selling EV in 2019, and now sits in fourth place in terms of cumulative EV sales.

UK's best-selling EVs Q2 2020

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, October 2020.

A key indicator as to the strength of the UK market for electric vehicles is the number of segments covered by the electric models currently available. While the main nine electric cars available in 2011 covered four body styles - city cars, small family cars, small vans and sports coup�s - the more than 130 plug-in cars and vans available in 2020 now include superminis, large family cars, hatchbacks, estates, SUVs, executive models, and medium-sized vans.

UK's best-selling EVs 2020

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, October 2020.

Previous experience of introducing new technologies into the automotive market shows that having a broad range of both models and body styles is key to ensuring strong uptake of new power-trains. With the large number of brands and classes now available, the EV market has a strong base on which to continue to grow.

How many EV charging points are there in the UK?

With new charge points being added daily, the UK’s charging point infrastructure is continually changing. The chart below shows the breakdown of charge point devices by slow (3-5kW), fast (7-22kW), rapid (25-99kW) and ultra-rapid (100kW+) power rating for the past five years and 2021 to date.

As the chart reveals, the past few years has seen a dramatic increase in the number of public EV charge points in the UK. Between the end of 2016 and 2020 there was an increase of 220% in the number of public chargers. Another trend is the growth in slow chargers, as local authorities install on-street charging options to enable EV purchase for people without off-street parking.

Number of public charge points by speed

Source: Zap-Map Statistics

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:16th Jun 2021

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