EV sales break all records in March

Registrations of electric vehicles have broken almost all records in March 2020, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Despite being partially hit by procedures to limit the spread of coronavirus, March has proved to be a huge success for electric vehicles - both pure-EVs and PHEVs. A combined figure of more than 18,500 is almost 6,000 units more than the previous record from September 2019.

Pure-EVs reached their highest ever total, with almost 11,700 registered during the month. The previous record was a little over 7,700, also in September 2019.

SMMT figures March 2020

PHEVs also set a new record for units registered, though somewhat closer than EV figures. March 2020 saw just over 6,800 sold, whilst the previous record in March 2018 was almost 6,400.

As might be expected with such a large increase on EV units registered, market share for pure-electric models hit a new record too. March 2020's figure saw 7.3% of all new models registered as plug-in models, and pure-electric market share was 4.6%. Put into perspective, the previous records were 6.3% (Dec 19) and 3.4% (Aug 19) respectively.

Pure EV registrations were up 199% vs last year's figures, and 366% of February's. PHEVs performed well with a 38% improvement over last year, and 231% up on last month.

Combined EV registrations - March 2020

These large increases over February 2020 are expected to a degree, since March is a new-registration month, and the month prior to a new plate being launched is traditionally quiet as buyers wait. However, March 2020 has been stronger than many would have predicted.

After just three months - and one of those hit by significant limitations on how many new cars could be registered - 2020 is now 56% down on the total 12-month figure of 2019. As such, electric car sales in 2020 would have normally been expected to comfortably beat last year's figures, though coronavirus will likely hit this huge growth.

To show how strong 2020's EV growth has been to the end of the first quarter, the total with a coronavirus-hit March is only around 250 units down on the first half of 2019's figures. Without travel restrictions in place for part of March, considering more than 11,600 units were still registered during the month, it's reasonable to predict that Q1 2020 would have easily surpassed H1 2019.

EV sales by month-year -  March 2020

Further signs that the EV market is burgeoning is its performance against an admittedly struggling diesel market. Pure-EVs made up more than a quarter of conventional diesel registrations in March 2020 - something that would have been unthinkable a few years ago, and would have seemed optimistic even last year.

Although unclear, March looks as though an EV has made the top 10 monthly sales charts, for only the second time. Listed ninth, under 'Other' a little over 4,700 units were registered. This is likely to be Tesla's Model 3, since the manufacturer is not currently a member of the SMMT.

Figures for Q1 2020 show that there have been more than 31,900 plug-in cars registered, of which more than 11,250 were pure-electric. The combined market share for the year is 6.6% of all new models registered.

Find out more about electric cars

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:6th Apr 2020

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