Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV leads UK EV sales charts

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has reclaimed the title of this year's best-selling electric vehicle, with the latest figures from the Department of Transport (DfT) showing the SUV has overtaken the previous leader - Nissan's Leaf - in Q3 2018.

Mitsubishi's Outlander PHEV remains the best-selling plug-in model outright in the UK, with 36,760 models sold as of the end of September - almost 5,000 of those in 2018 to the end of Q3, and just shy of 2,000 in those last three months. The DfT's model registration figures are always published a quarter behind, so Q3 statistics are the latest we have.

At the halfway point of the year, Nissan's Leaf was leading the way, but with 4,244 sales in 2018 to the end of September, it has lost its first place to the Mitsubishi. The Leaf has sold more than 23,800 units in the UK to date, almost 1,000 of those in Q3 2018.

Cumulative EV best-sellers - Q3 2018

The battle between the plug-in hybrid Outlander and the pure-electric Leaf broadly mirror those of the market as a plug-in whole. The Outlander PHEV accounts for 61% of sales of the two models, while the UK's overall PHEV-EV mix is 68% in favour of EVs.

Of the top 10 UK models, three are pure-electric and six are plug-in hybrid. The other place is taken up by the BMW i3, available in both pure-electric and REX.

The Outlander PHEV will no doubt have benefited from a model update in summer of this year, that saw an improved powertrain offer more power and range, as well as equipment upgrades. Nissan experienced a similar lift towards the start of the year, when the Lef 40 kWh model started rolling into showrooms in significant numbers.

Rounding out the top ten selling models for 2018 to the end of Q3 are the BMWs 330e and 530e - with almost 4,000 and 3,500 sales this year respectively, 1,400 and 1,200 in the last quarter. The VW Golf GTE is in fifth place for the year at more than 3,200 sales and almost 1,250 in Q3.

The BMW i3, VW Passat GTE, Mini Countryman Cooper S E, Tesla Model S, and Mercedes Benz C 350 e complete the remaining places in the to top 10 in that order.

Best-selling EVs 2018 to end of Q3

The best-sellers in Q3 remain largely the same, though in a different order. Here the BMW 330e trails the Outlander PHEV, but leads the Golf GTE, 530e, i3, Leaf, Renault's Zoe, the Mini, BMW's 225xe, and the C 350 e in that order.

A surprise model in the list for Q3 is the Range Rover Sport PHEV, which was the 11th best-selling plug-in model for those three months, and at 433 units, it out sold the Tesla's Model S and Model X, which were in 12th and 13th respectively.

BMW's recent news that, with the launch of the longer-range i3 120Ah it is removing the range-extended REX from sale, looks to be a brave one judging by UK sales. Potentially, as BMW says, the increase in range to near REX levels will see buyers not need the back-up of an on-board generator, though to date 70% of all i3 sales have been REX.

Regardless of this change, the latest set of figures show that BMW is likely to become the largest plug-in manufacturer in the UK, in terms of units sold, by the end of the year. Mitsubishi has long held that title, with the Outlander PHEV's sales supported by a handful of i-MiEVs.

Best-selling EVs Q3 2018

BMW's larger product range mean that, although Mitsubishi sold almost 2,000 units of one model in Q3 2018, the German manufacturer sold almost 4,500 units spread across six models. As such, as of the end of Q3 2018, BMW is only 69 units behind Mitsubishi, and 10,000 ahead of Nissan in third place.

Looking at manufacturing groups though, Mitsubishi's part in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance means that group dominates the UK's plug-in market. Almost 72,000 plug-in models have come from the three brands - 42% of all UK electric vehicles - well ahead of the BMW Group's figure of more than 39,000, which includes Mini sales.

Towards the top of the table, it is BMW and VW that are climbing the sales charts the fastest, the former seeing growth of 122% in 2018 compared to the whole of 2017 - and there're still three months of sales to factor in. Compared to Q3 2017, BMW is 172% up. VW has seen growth of 73% for Q3's figures compared to the end of 2017's statistics, and an increase of 135% over the same period last year.

PHEV-EV split - Q3 2018

Big increases in sales lower down - where newer entrants to the plug-in car market are up against small registration figures - show that Kia, Hyundai, and Mini are performing well. Mini's sales increased 35% compared to Q2 2018, Hyundai's 29%, and Kia's 17% - the latter level with VW.

It is Jaguar and Land Rover that showed the largest Q3 sales increases though, at 219% and 97% respectively, with models such as the I-Pace new this year for the former, and the Range Rover & Range Rover Sport PHEVs from the latter.

Find out more about the EV market

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:14th Dec 2018

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