Electric car market statistics

EV market stats

The last five 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 246,000 by the end of October 2019. 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 increased to an average of almost 5,500 per month during 2019.

By the end of 2018, almost 60,000 plug-in cars had been registered over the course of the year - a new record. This significantly improved upon the previous record, set in 2017, increasing it by more than 13,000 units. By the end of the year, plug-in cars as a proportion of total UK registrations reached 3.8%, and averaged over 2018 electric cars represented 2.7 per cent of the total new car market in the UK.

In the first ten months of 2019, more than 54,000 plug-in cars have been sold, and a rolling 12-month total to the end of October has seen more than 63,000 new electric vehicles hit the road. Should the last three months of this year only match last year's figures, 2019 will comfortably set a new record for the number of electric cars sold in 12 months. As of the end of October, 2019 is 10% up against the same period in 2018, and the growth is accelerating.

What is different about 2019 over the past few years is the strength of the pure-electric car market. Where PHEVs have on average made up at least two-thirds of all plug-in cars sold since 2015 - and sometimes as much as three-quarters - since March 2019, that position has almost switched to EVs being the dominant powertrain type.

EV registrations

Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, November 2019.

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, around 200,000 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 247,000 electric vehicles strong.

EV registrations by year

Source: SMMT, OLEV, DfT Statistics; Analysis: Next Green Car, January 2019.

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 2019, and by some margin. With almost 42,500 units sold, it has been the best-selling plug-in car for more than four years, and is considerably ahead of the second most popular plug-in car, the Nissan Leaf.

More than 25,500 Leafs have been sold in the UK though, making it the best-selling pure-EV in the UK, and still comfortably ahead of the quick-selling BMW i3. Regular updates to the i3's range has seen the BMW consistently record high sales, now sitting at more than 13,800 to the end of Q2 2019.

Nissan LEAF most popular EV in UK

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, September 2019.

Joining the i3 towards the top of the table is the BMW 330e with more than 13,000 sales to date. Completing a BMW triumvirate is the 530e in fifth place with a little over 10,200 sales.

Rounding out the top 10 are the Mercedes Benz C 350e, Tesla's Model S, Renault's Zoe, the Volkswagen Golf GTE, and Volvo's XC90 T8 Twin Engine .

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, five years later they represent two out of every three plug-in cars sold by the end of Q2 2019.

UK's best-selling EVs Q2 2019

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, September 2019.

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 125 plug-in cars and vans available in 2019 now include superminis, large family cars, hatchbacks, estates, SUVs, executive models, and medium-sized vans.

UK's best-selling EVs 2019

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, September 2019.

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 10,000 charging locations, 16,000 charging devices and 27,000 connectors by November 2019. 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 (43kW+) which are able to provide an 80% charge in around 30 minutes.

Rapid chargers come in two charge point types – AC and DC – depending on whether they use alternating current or direct current. During 2019, there has been a need to differentiate between different speeds of rapid points as ultra-rapid chargers have come online. These are capable of providing at least 100 kW of power for charging, where those EVs are able to accept such a high charge. Ultra-rapid charge points tend to be 100 kW, 150 kW, or 350 kW.

Source: Zap-Map Statistics

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:5th Nov 2019

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