Electric car market statistics

EV market stats

The electric car market is growing quickly, with more than 164,100 pure-electric cars on UK roads at the end of September 2020 - and over 373,600 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 6.7% of total new car registrations, whilst adding in PHEVs takes that figure up to 10.5%.

It's been an extremely positive 2020 to date for the electric car market. September's figures saw a 184% increase in pure-electric registrations compared to the previous year, and PHEVs grew 139%. That's compared to hybrids (+56%), petrol (-21%), and diesel (-38%), with an overall decline of -4%.

September follows on from recent successful months, with figures posted in August up 110%, July up 287%, and June up 192% compared to 2019 registrations. 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 nine months of 2020 are up 127% compared to 2019. More than 66,600 pure-EVs have been sold in 2020 to the end of September. Looking at all plug-in vehicles, that total rises to almost 108,900 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 September 2019, the market share was 3.8% - strong performance for the time. October increased 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, July's, August's, and September's figures of 9.5%, 8.9%, 9.8%, and 10.5% respectively 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. The year's figures to date have seen more than 108,800 electric vehicles sold, of which 61% are pure-electric.

EV registrations

Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, October 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 almost 12,100 per month for 2020.

Pure-EV registrations

Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, October 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 June 2020. With more than 46,400 units sold, it has been the best-selling plug-in car for more than five years, and is considerably ahead of the second most popular plug-in car, the Nissan Leaf.

More than 31,400 Leafs have been sold in the UK however, making it the best-selling pure-EV in the UK, and still comfortably ahead of the BMW 330e in third.

Nissan LEAF most popular EV in UK

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, October 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 fourth place in terms of cumulative EV sales.

UK's best-selling EVs Q2 2020

Source: DfT Vehicle Licensing Statistics. Analysis Next Green Car, October 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, October 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 12,400 charging locations, 19,700 charging devices and 34,400 connectors by October 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 can provide a charge to 80% in around 30-50 minutes - sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on the EV and its battery capacity.

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:8th Oct 2020

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