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UK sales of battery electric vehicles hit new record with 25.5% market share

Across 2021 as a whole, 190,727 battery electric vehicles were sold. Image: Getty

Across 2021 as a whole, 190,727 battery electric vehicles were sold. Image: Getty

A new record for battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales was hit in the UK in December, rounding off a bumper year which saw a 76.3% rise.

In December 2021, 27,705 BEVs were sold compared to 21,914 in 2020 according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). This is equivalent to a 25.5% market share, which the SMMT said was a new record market share in a non-locked down trading month.

While the market share is higher than that achieved in September 2021 (15.2%), the number of sales in December does fall short on the record 32,721 recorded that month.

December's figures do also see more BEVs sold than diesel for the sixth month in a row, however, with only 5,201 diesel vehicles sold in the month, representing a 4.8% market share.

In 2021 as a whole, 190,727 BEVs were sold, a significant rise of 76.3% on the 108,205 in 2020. In total, BEVs represented 11.6% of all new car sales in 2020, compared to 6.6% for 2020. As such, 2021 was the most successful year in history for EV uptake, with more new BEVs sold than over the previous five years combined, the SMMT said.

Plug-in hybrids also had a strong year, with 114,554 sold, meaning that 18.5% of all new cars sold in 2021 can be plugged in.

Research from New AutoMotive has estimated that sales of BEVs in 2022 will reach 300,000, with a 15% market share.

The UK finished 2021 as the second largest European market for new car registrations by volume for BEVs, although it was in ninth position overall in Europe for BEVs by market share.

The most popular BEVs sold in the year were:

  1. Tesla Model 3 (34,783 sold)
  2. Kia e-Niro (12,271 sold)
  3. Volkswagen ID.3 (11,032 sold)
  4. Nissan Leaf (9,052 sold)
  5. Audi e-tron (7,396 sold)
  6. Hyundai Kona (7,199 sold)
  7. MINI (6,615 sold)
  8. Renault Zoe (5,778 sold)
  9. Vauxhall Corsa-e (5,605 sold)
  10. MG ZS (5,380 sold)

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said that despite the challenges the new car market has faced overall due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, the "undeniable bright spot" has been the rise in electric vehicle sales, however he reiterated his call for mandated targets for the rollout of public on-street charging as well as reversals to cuts to home charging grants.


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