Plug-in car registrations break records in December

Registrations of plug-in cars have reached a record market share for December 2017. Electric vehicles accounted for 2.9% of all cars registered during the month according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

In total, 4,426 electric cars were registered in December 2017 - almost double the number registered in December 2016 - taking the total for 2017 as a whole to a record 47,164 vehicles.

Plug-in market share for 2017 in total came in at 1.9%, and there are now more than 132,000 total electric car registrations as of the end of 2017. Of 2017's plug-in car registrations, 95% were eligible for the UK Plug-In Car Grant - almost 45,000 - with that figure sitting at 94% for December.

The split between pure-EV and PHEV models registered remains strongly in the latter's favour. PHEV registrations accounted for 78% of December units, and ended the year on 71% of total plug-in registrations. Of all plug-in cars registered in the UK, two thirds of them are PHEVs.

Electric Car Registrations - Dec 2017

December's pure-EV figures showed a 17% decline vs the previous year, though this was off-set by an increase in PHEV registrations of more than 88%. Registrations for Plug-in Car Grant eligible models increased 46% compared to December 2016.

Put into perspective, the plug-in car market remains small compared to overall sales, but is showing larger growth than any other area. Total car registrations for 2017 were down 6% compared to 2016, though sales over the past 12 months were still the third highest in a decade, with more than 2.5 million cars sold.

Electric cars - and hybrids - are benefiting from two main changes to the UK car market. There are more and better plug-in models available and greater infrastructure on offer to support drivers. The market is also taking some of the sales from diesel, which has seen significant decline in 2017.

Diesel registrations have dropped more than 30% compared to 2016, with petrol down just 2% and alternatively fuelled vehicles - which include EVs, PHEVs, and hybrids - up 37%. Diesel market share in 2016 was 47% of total registrations, but now accounts for less than 38% in 2017. Petrol cars made up more than 56% of 2017 registrations, with AFVs contributing to more than 5% of the market.

The drop in diesel sales has seen the average official CO2 figures of cars sold in 2017 rise - the first time this has happened since 1997. The increase is only slight though, off-set in part by the plug-in models, despite their relatively small market share. Average CO2 for 2017 registrations was 121.04 g/km, up 0.8% on 2016.

December 2017 saw the sixth highest number of electric car registrations ever, behind September 2017's fifth place by just 18 units. The last quarter of 2017 was only the third best on record, but the second half of 2017 was the best ever with almost 25,000 electric cars registered between July and December inclusive. The average number of electric cars registered each month was 3,930 for 2017, up almost 1,000 units a month from 2016's 3,081.

Find more electric vehicle market statistics here

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:5th Jan 2018

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