Electric car market statistics

EV market stats

The last four years have seen a remarkable surge in demand for electric vehicles in the UK – new registrations of plug-in cars increased from 3,500 in 2013 to more than 150,000 by May 2018. There has also been a huge increase in the number of pure-electric and plug-in hybrid models available in the UK with many of the top manufacturers in the UK now offering a number of EVs as part of their model range.

The following sections present UK sales of electric cars and vans since 2010, and the total number of EVs registered in the UK. 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.

Note: The terms 'electric cars' and electric vehicles' on this page refers to cars and vans that are zero-emission capable by running on electric power only for a reasonable range. This includes pure-electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs). With the exception of the tiny number of FCEVs on the road, this essentially comprises any vehicle that is able to be recharged via a plug, and excludes conventional hybrids.

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?

Figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) each month show that electric car sales in the UK have risen dramatically over the past few years. While only around 500 electric cars were registered per month during the first half of 2014, this has now risen to an average of almost 4,000 per month during 2017. The average for 2018 is better still at almost 4,500 registrations a month, and a rolling 12-month average of more than 4,200 units.

By the end of 2017, more than 47,000 plug-in cars had been registered over the course of the year - a new record. This significantly improved upon the previous record, set in 2016, improving it by more than 10,000 units. By the end of the year, plug-in cars as a proportion of total UK registrations reached 2.9%, and averaged over 2017, electric cars represented 1.9 per cent of the total new car market in the UK. Figures available for the first four months of 2018 see the plug-in car market make up 2.0 per cent of all new cars sold in the UK.

EV registrations

Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, May 2018.

The cumulative figure also shows sustained and dramatic growth of the EV car and van market. According to the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and SMMT, almost 149,000 claims have been made through the Plug-in Car Grant scheme.

Taken together with the fact that a significant number of electric cars and vans which are not eligible for the grant schemes have also been registered, the total UK light-duty electric fleet is more than 155,000 electric vehicles strong.

cumulative EV registrations

EV registrations by year

Source: SMMT, OLEV, DfT Statistics; Analysis: Next Green Car, January 2018.

What are the UK's most popular EV models?

As of the end of 2017, the latest figures available from the Department for Transport show that Mitsubishi's Outlander PHEV is the most popular plug-in vehicle by some margin. With more than 31,800 units sold it has been the best-selling plug-in car for almost three years now, and is considerably ahead of the second most popular plug-in car, the Nissan Leaf.

More than 19,500 Leafs have been sold in the UK though, making it the best-selling pure-EV in the UK, and still comfortably ahead of the rapid-selling BMW 330e. The BMW has risen to third in the best-sellers' chart in just two years, and went from seventh to third in only 12 months.

Joining the 330e towards the top of the table is the BMW i3 with just over 9,000 sales by the end of 2017, narrowly ahead of the Mercedes Benz C 350e which - like its BMW 330e executive rival - has quickly climbed the sales charts.

Rounding out the top 10 are Tesla's Model S, the Renault Zoe, Volkswagen's Golf GTE, the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine and the Nissan e-NV200 in that order. Most of the e-NV200's sold though have been the van variant though, and Audi's A3 e-tron climbs above the Nissan if looking purely at car sales.

Plug-in hybrids have rapidly taken the majority share of the electric car market - currently sitting at 67%. From accounting for less than a third of plug-in sales at the beginning of 2014, four years later they represent two thirds the overall number of plug-in cars sold by the end of 2017.

Nissan LEAF most popular EV in UK

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, April 2018.

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 coupés - the more than 70 plug-in cars and vans available in 2017 now include superminis, large family cars, hatchbacks, estates, SUVs, executive models, and medium-sized vans.

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?

As a result of sustained government and private investment, the UK network of EV charging points has increased from a few hundred in 2011 to more than 4,300 charging locations, 6,700 charging devices and 12,500 connectors by May 2017. The proportion of charger types has also changed dramatically during that time with an increase in high power (rapid) units being installed across the UK.

There are three main EV charger types: 'slow' charging units (up to 3kW) which are best suited for 6-8 hours overnight; 'fast' chargers (7-22kW) which can fully recharge some models in 3-4 hours; and 'rapid' charging units (43-50kW) which are able to provide an 80% charge in around 30 minutes. Rapid chargers also come in two charge point types – AC and DC – depending on whether they use alternating current or direct current.

Source: Zap-Map Statistics

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:5th Jan 2018

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