EV sales growth bucks UK new car market trend

Pure-electric car registrations are bucking the current UK market trend, with continued growth in May 2019 seeing almost 2,000 units sold, an increase of 81% compared to last year. That's against a backdrop where the total UK new car market dropped 4.6% compared to last year.

Although pure-EVs are showing sustained growth - the last dip in sales compared to the previous year happened in March 2018 - PHEV registrations have dipped for the third month on the trot.

More than 2,300 PHEVs were registered in May 2019, a drop of 41% compared to 2018's figure, which sees a combined UK plug-in car total - EV & PHEV - of 4,352 units registered during the month.

SMMT EV registrations May 2019

Despite current strength in pure-electric market growth, the sector still only made up 1.1% of total UK new car registrations last month, and PHEVs accounted for just 1.3%. The combined plug-in car market share for May 2019 is 2.4%, while the current share for 2019 is 2.1% and the 12-month rolling share is 2.6%.

The continued growth for pure-EVs and drop in PHEV registrations sees the market split balance out, with the past three months seeing a share of around 45:55 for pure-EVs compared to PHEVs. For a long time, the total market split has been around a ratio of 35:65, and by the end of last year, the split was as great as almost 25:75.

There is discussion as to what is affecting the UK plug-in car market most, with the effective removal of the Plug-in Car Grant for PHEVs no doubt a factor in the dip in sales performance. Likely to be far more significant though is likely to be supply issues from manufacturers for new plug-in cars. A number of popular models - both pure-EV and PHEV - have long waiting lists, and even suspended order books.

SMMT EV market May 2019

Table courtesy of SMMT

There doesn't seem to be a lack of demand from buyers, but there is certainly a lack of supply. With new EVs due in the second half of 2019 and early 2020, it is hoped that increased choice will help mitigate any supply issues for what remains an important electric vehicle market in Europe.

The backdrop for the electric vehicle market is the UK new car market as a whole, which sees diesel continue its decline. Sales dropped 18% compared to last year, and the market share is only 28% of total new car registrations in May 2019, down from last year's 32% - itself a figure that was far lower than the year before's 45%.

Market share for petrol models is now at two-thirds, and alternatively fuelled vehicles - which bundle together the likes of pure-electric, PHEVs, and conventional hybrids - sit at 6% market share, with growth of 14% compared to last year.

Find out more EV market stats

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:5th Jun 2019

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