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Electric car market statistics

EV market stats

The electric car market is growing quickly, with more than 136,600 pure-electric cars on UK roads at the end of July 2020 - and over 330,800 plug-in models including plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). The most recent set of figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that pure-electric models accounted for 4.7% of total new car registrations, whilst adding in PHEVs takes that figure up to 9%.

It's been an extremely positive first half of 2020 for the electric car market. July's figures saw a 262% increase in pure-electric registrations compared to the previous year, and PHEVs grew 322%. That's compared to hybrids (+65%), petrol (-0.3%), and diesel (-26%), and an overall growth of 11%.

July follows on from recent successful months, as similar figures were posted in June, and pure-EVs in May were the only fuel type to increase sales as all other sectors declined by at least 50%; petrol & diesel markets both declined more than 90%. May carried on from April's record EV market share and strong performance in a number of areas, despite it being the first full month of coronavirus-imposed lockdown in the UK.

Registrations for pure-EVs in the first seven months of 2020 are up 112% compared to 2019. Just over 39,000 pure-EVs have been sold in 2020 to the end of July. Looking at all plug-in vehicles, that total rises to 66,000 units.

It's an encouraging trend that looks to see 2020 continuing positive sales found in 2019. More than 72,700 electric cars were sold last year - over 22,000 pure-EVs and almost 35,000 PHEVs - comfortably beating 2018's combined total of 59,700. Average pure-electric market share has also risen significantly, currently sitting at 4.7%, up from 1.7% for the whole of 2019. For 2020 to date, plug-in models make up 7.7% of all new cars sold.

The combined EV market share has shifted significantly upwards in the past year or so. In August 2019, the market share set a new record at 4.4%, before dropping to what was then a still healthy 3.8% in September - a traditional strong month for the car industry all round because of the new numberplate. October increased back to 4.4%, and since then, the share hasn't dropped below 5.7%. It reached 7.3% in March 2020, before the shooting up to 34% in April 2020 - the first month of lockdown - maintaining a strong performance in May 2020 at 16%. June's figures of 9.5% and July's of 8.9% represent significant sustained growth in the market.

With increased supply of electric and plug-in hybrid cars, plus new models being launched with increasing regularity, the increasing trends are only going to accelerate over the course of the next few months.

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?

SMMT figures are showing sustained growth in 2020 for the electric car market, with huge increases in registrations compared to the previous year despite the impact of coronavirus. Even April's lockdown figures were only down 57% compared to 2019, during a time when people were restricted in going out and buying new cars - pure-EVs were only down 10% for April 2020. The year's figures to date have seen more than 66,000 electric vehicles sold, of which 60% are pure-electric.

EV registrations

Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, August 2020.

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 more than 9,400 per month for 2020.

Pure-EV registrations

Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, August 2020.

What is different about recent figures 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 switched to EVs being the dominant powertrain type.

EV registrations by year

Source: SMMT, OLEV, DfT Statistics; Analysis: Next Green Car, January 2020.

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 March 2020, and by some margin. With more than 46,000 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 31,000 Leafs have been sold in the UK however, making it the best-selling pure-EV in the UK, and still comfortably ahead of the quick-selling BMW 330e.

Nissan LEAF most popular EV in UK

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, June 2020.

The established order is being shaken up by the Tesla Model 3. Having gone on sale shortly before the middle of 2019, by the end of the year it had become the best-selling EV in 2019, and now sits in fifth place in terms of cumulative EV sales.

UK's best-selling EVs Q1 2020

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, June 2020.

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 130 plug-in cars and vans available in 2020 now include superminis, large family cars, hatchbacks, estates, SUVs, executive models, and medium-sized vans.

UK's best-selling EVs 2020

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, June 2020.

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 11,600 charging locations, 18,500 charging devices and 32,200 connectors by the end of June 2020. 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. In 2019, there became 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.

Charging connectors by type - UK 2020

Source: Zap-Map Statistics

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:1st Jul 2020

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