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Electric Car Sales In The UK 2020

Electric car sales in the UK went up in 2020, despite Covid-19. We take a look at the market statistics and 2020’s best selling EVs.

With a ban on the sale of new petrol powered cars on the horizon (2030), new strict emission charges popping up, and increasing numbers of people becoming climate conscious, the UK electric car industry is booming. In fact, EVs and hybrids experienced their best year of sales to-date, despite the fact that car registrations overall fell by 29.4% as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Key 2020 UK electric car market statistics (Source: SSMT)

  • Pure-electric vehicle (BEVs) sales were up 186%
  • Petrol hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) sales were up 12.1%
  • Plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) sales are up 91.2% following a dip in 2019
  • Pure-electric vehicles make up 6.6% of new cars sold
  • 1 in 10 cars registered in the UK last year were Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFVs), with one new EV registered every three minutes. Compared to about 1 in 30 in 2019.

Despite the overall market share that BEVs and PHEVs occupy still being relatively small, it’s predicted that we will continue to see dramatic change over the next few years, with battery supply issues expected to resolve themselves, and a run of new models proving a huge success such as the Tesla Model 3. However, on a global level there is no denying there is still a long way to go – with the UK only attracting a small fraction of global investment in electric car manufacturing.

The UK’s Best Selling Electric Cars In 2020

As predicted, the Tesla Model 3 was a force to be reckoned with last year, comfortably taking the top spot in EV sales.

10 best selling electric cars in the UK 2020 (Source):

  • Tesla Model 3
  • Nissan LEAF
  • BMW 3 Series PHEV
  • MG 25
  • Jaguar i-Pace
  • Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
  • Volkswagen e-Golf
  • Audi e-Tron
  • Kia Niro (BEV + PHEV)
  • Peugeot e-208

Tesla Model 3

Rated 5 out of 5 stars by AutoExpress, the sleek and minimalist Tesla Model 3 will set you back between £42,500 to £59,000, depending on your desired range and performance level. Despite its high price point this pure EV has proved incredibly popular in the UK since it hit the market in 2019. And, it’s popularity shows no signs of dampening – in December 2020, the Tesla Model 3 outsold even petrol and diesel cars.

Part of its success is no doubt its impressive real-world range – which is considerably better than the majority of similarly priced EVs on the market. Depending on your version choice, the cheapest Standard Range Plus Model 3 version lays claim to a 267 mile range, and the priciest Performance model boasts a 352 mile range.

As has become standard practice with Tesla vehicles, the Model 3’s performance level is also top notch, with the Standard giving a 0-60mph time of 5.3s, reaching a top speed of 140mph – rivaling its fossil fuel competitors. And the Performance Model 3 reaches 0-60mph in 3.1 seconds, going up to 162mph.

But perhaps the most appealing aspect of the Model 3 is its advanced computing hardware – which can receive ongoing software updates and therefore take advantage of improved functionality in the future – including full Self-Driving Capability. As well as lots of fun techy features, the hardware offers drivers autopilot features such as the ability to steer, accelerate and brake automatically within its lane.

Nissan LEAF

Taking second spot again this year is the unassuming Nissan LEAF, starting from £26,845 new, with a range of up to 239 miles. The LEAF has been the world’s best selling EV for the last few years, recently winning awards for its wide range of advanced driver-assistance features and affordability. Why is it so popular in the UK? Drive Green gives a great summary here.

BMW 3 Series PHEV

BMWs 3 series hybrid model the 330e is described by Car Magazine as ‘impressive’ and captured a large proportion of the alternatively fueled vehicle market in 2020. The electric-only driving range has increased by 50% to 41 miles, and its Xtraboost functionality helps it reach bursts of power output up to 289bhp.

The 330e has a CO2 rating of just 32g/km. With its release date coinciding with BIK rate reductions for low emission vehicles it’s unsurprising that the majority of 330e sales were company car buyers.

Remaining barriers to widespread EV adoption

A recent Deloitte study has looked at consumer concerns around EVs in 2020 in the UK and compared this to sentiment in 2018. The research revealed that concerns around driving range and vehicle price have now begun to reduce. Instead, lack of charging infrastructure has taken over as the number one concern among consumers in the UK. Which, as Deloitte point out, could actually show that consumers are seeing EV purchase as more realistic now and are turning their focus onto the practicalities of running one.

The UK as the home of electric vehicles?

In his first speech as Prime Minister July 2019, Boris Johnson declared “We will be the home of electric vehicles – cars, even planes, powered by British made battery technology being developed right here, right now.”

With Brexit and the coronavirus crisis, if Johnson’s vision will transpire is yet to be seen. But it’s clear that government support through long-term incentives and investment into infrastructure will be crucial if we are to obtain widespread adoption of EVs.

In our next blog we will be looking at The UK Electric Car Industry In 2021 & Beyond.

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