Electric car market statistics

EV market stats

The last three 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 almost 61,000 at the beginning of May 2016. There has also been a huge increase in the number of electric and plug-in hybrid models available in the UK with each of the 10 best-selling brands in the UK now offering an EV as part of their model range.

The following sections present UK sales of electric cars and vans since 2011, 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.

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?

Monthly figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that electric car sales in the UK have risen dramatically during the past two 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 around 2,400 per month during 2015 - with 2016 significantly outperforming the previous year so far. As a percentage of new car registrations, electric cars now represent around 1.4% of the total new car market in the UK.

EV registrations

Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, May 2016.

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 61,000 claims have been made through the Plug-in Car and Van Grant schemes (as of May 2016).

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 in excess of 70,000 electric vehicles.

cumulative EV registrations

EV registrations by year

Source: SMMT, OLEV, DfT Statistics; Analysis: Next Green Car, April 2016.

What are the UK's most popular EV models?

The latest figures show that the Nissan Leaf maintains its position as the most popular electric car in the UK, with more than 11,000 vehicles registered by the end of 2015. The registration data also shows that Mitsubishi's Outlander PHEV has come in and stolen the show a little as the best-selling plug-in vehicle in the UK with more than 16,000 sold to the end of Q4 2015.

In third and fourth places are the BMW i3 with 3,574 UK registrations across both the all-electric and range-extender variants, and the Renault Zoe with 3,327 UK sales by the end of the year. The Tesla Model S - with more than 2,000 units - has leap-frogged Toyota's Prius Plug-in - 1,579 sales - to fifth position.

Plug-in hybrids have rapidly taken an increasing share of the plug-in car market, a trend that only looks set to continue with more models confirmed to go on sale in the UK within the next year. From accounting for less than a quarter of plug-in sales at the beginning of 2014, within two years they represent more than half the overall number of plug-in cars sold by the end of 2015.

Nissan LEAF most popular EV in UK

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, April 2016.

A key indicator as to the strength of the UK market for electric vehicles is the number of segments covered by the EV models currently available. While the main nine EVs available in 2011 covered four body styles - city cars, small family cars, small vans and sports coupés - the 39 electric cars and vans available in 2016 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 very 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 nearly 4000 charging locations, 6000 charging devices and over 10,000 connectors by April 2016. 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

Ben Lane

Author:Ben Lane
Date Updated:7th Jan 2016

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