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 almost 95,000 by the end of March 2017. There has also been a huge increase in the number of electric and plug-in hybrid models available in the UK with many of the top manufacturers 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 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.

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 more than 3,000 per month over the past 12 months. By the end of 2016, more than 35,000 plug-in cars had been registered over the course of the year, the highest number ever. As a percentage of new car registrations, electric cars now represent around 1.3 per cent of the total new car market in the UK. That figure for the first three months of 2017 sits at 1.5 per cent.

EV registrations

Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, April 2017.

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, more than 95,000 claims have been made through the Plug-in Car and Van Grant schemes.

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 100,000 electric vehicles strong.

cumulative EV registrations

EV registrations by year

Source: SMMT, OLEV, DfT Statistics; Analysis: Next Green Car, April 2017.

What are the UK's most popular EV models?

As of the end of 2016, 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 almost 25,500 units sold it has been the best-selling plug-in car for almost two years now, and is clearly ahead of the second most popular plug-in car, the Nissan Leaf. More than 14,500 Leafs have been sold in the UK though, well ahead of the Mercedes Benz C 350e which has just climbed into third place, and comfortably putting the Nissan in first position in terms of pure-electric vehicles.

More than 5,000 Mercedes Benz C 350e sales in the space of 12 months have seen the PHEV rack up almost 6,000 units, and pushed the BMW i3 down to fourth place in the best-sellers table by just 32 cars sold. The i3 is ahead of the fifth-placed Renault Zoe, which is just shy of 5,000 total sales by the end of 2016.

Rounding out the top 10 are Tesla's Model S, the BMW 330e, Volkswagen's Golf GTE, the Nissan e-NV200, and Audi's A3 e-tron in that order.

Plug-in hybrids have rapidly taken the majority share of the electric car market - currently sitting at 63%. From accounting for less than a third of plug-in sales at the beginning of 2014, within two years they represent almost two thirds the overall number of plug-in cars sold by the end of 2016.

Nissan LEAF most popular EV in UK

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, April 2017.

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 55 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 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 4,200 charging locations, 6,500 charging devices and 11,750 connectors by October 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

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:19th Apr 2017

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