Plug-in sales show strong growth in May

Electric car sales have seen significant - and continued - growth in May, after the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that EV registrations have increased by more than 60% compared to last year.

With more than 5,000 registrations for May 2018, the figure represents 2.6% of total new car sales for the month - the second greatest market share on record. There have now been more than 155,000 electric cars registered according to SMMT figures.

Of those, the majority continue to be plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), accounting for almost 4,000 registrations last month. More than 1,000 units were pure-electric, up 73% and 19% compared to May 2017 respectively.

The weighting towards PHEVs in terms of registrations continues to be high, accounting for 78% of UK electric vehicle sales in May 2018. May 2017's ratio was around 70%, but it has steadily risen to between 75% and 80% typically over the last nine months or so.

EV registrations - SMMT May 2018

Models eligible for the Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) made up 87.5% of registrations in May - the lowest figure Next Green Car has records for, and certainly the lowest since the current grant criteria came into effect. If a plug-in car isn't eligible for the PiCG, it is typically because it costs more than the £60,000 threshold for PHEV models, rather than not meeting emissions or EV range criteria.

For 2018 to date, there have been more than 23,000 units registered, at a market share of 2.1% - the same share for the 12 month rolling total, where more than 52,000 units have been sold. Average EV registrations for 2018 to date are sitting at more than 4,600 a month, also at a market share of 2.1% - up on 2017's 3,930 and 1.9% figures.

The good news for EVs comes as diesel registrations continue to slump. Consumer confidence in new diesel sales has been hit for some time now, with registrations down -23.6% compared to May 2017. Last year was already showing signs of diesel's decline too, and the fuel's market share for 2018 is only a 32% - significantly down from the its heights of more than 50% a couple of years ago.

In contrast, petrol's market share continues to increase, accounting for an almost identical swing from diesel's drop, increasing 23.5% compared to last year. Alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) - predominantly made up of plug-in models and conventional hybrids - have seen an increase of more than 36% vs last year, increasing to a 5.8% market share. Total sales have increased 3.4% - the first bit of growth in the UK new car market for a few months now - though the year to date is still down 7%.

Find out more about electric cars here

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:5th Jun 2018

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