Plug-In Vehicle Sales Up To 3.1% In UK, 6.3% In December — But Look Around The Corner


Published on January 7th, 2020 | by Zachary Shahan

January 7th, 2020 by  

The United Kingdom (not so united these days, but that’s another story) is becoming a hot electric vehicle market, but it gets very little attention in the EV world. I’m going to postulate that’s because people drive on the wrong side of the road there. (Just sayin’.)

No doubt about it, the UK electric vehicle market isn’t close to the Norwegian market or Dutch market in terms of plug-in vehicle (PEV) market share. However, it did surpass the 3% marker in 2019, and surpassed 6% in December. This puts the UK pretty high up globally in terms of PEV market share. However, this is nothing compared to what we’re going to see in 2020. I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, more stats.

In December, some key statistics included:

  • 4,939 fully electric vehicles were registered, up 221% over December 2018.
  • 4,480 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles were registered, up 22% over December 2018.
  • Fully electric vehicles (BEVs) had 3.3% market share.
  • Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) had 3% market share.
  • Together, all PEVs had 6.3% market.

In 2019, some key stats included:

  • 37,850 fully electric vehicles were registered, up 144% over December 2018.
  • 34,734 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles were registered, down 18% compared to December 2018.
  • Fully electric vehicles (BEVs) had 1.6% market share.
  • Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) had 1.5% market share.
  • Together, all PEVs had 3.1% market.

True, 1.6%  market share, or even 3.1% market share, is not thrilling, but the market is warming up — those figures were 0.7% (BEV) and 2.5% (PEV) in 2018. Furthermore, for insight into what could be around the corner, we should actually look at 2019 in the Netherlands rather than 2019 in the UK.

The Netherlands saw an absolute explosion in BEV sales at the end of 2019. For the year as a whole, BEVs had 13.7% market share. In December, they had 53.9% market share. For 2019 as a whole, the Tesla Model 3 was the top selling automobile in the country — scoring approximately twice as many sales as the #2 Volkswagen Polo. The big incentive that pushed BEV sales over the edge in 2019 was a reduction in the tax administered on new company-provided vehicle sales (it’s more nuanced than that, but we can keep it simple this time).

As Maarten Vinkhuyzen and I have reported in recent months, the UK is getting the same kind of BEV policy in mid-2020. This tax break is for “company cars,” but unlike the US, where there are not that many company cars on the roads (as a proportion of all cars), company cars account for a gigantic chunk of European car markets. It’s very common for Brits to “get a car from their employer,” which they get to pick but has to stay within a designated budget. These company cars are taxed like income. However, that tax is being slashed from ~22% to 2% in the UK in the middle of this year. Bank of America Merrill Lynch conducted a study on BEV cost of ownership with this incentive and shared it with CleanTechnica. The findings were not that electric vehicles like the Tesla Model 3, Nissan LEAF, MG ZS EV, and Audi e-tron would be cost-competitive with their fossil-fueled competitors with this incentive. The findings were that the electric vehicles would often be significantly cheaper.

Maarten writes that the UK market for company cars is 4× larger than the Dutch market. Imagine the British public learning this year (if they don’t already know) that they’ll be able to get much more car for much less money. That’s a no-brainer, and it’s just around the corner in the UK.

Related: Bank of America Merrill Lynch: UK Tesla Model 3 & Other EV 3-Year Total Cost of Ownership Analysis Shows EVs Much Cheaper than Fossil Competitors

If you’d like to buy a Tesla Model 3, Model S, or Model X and get some free Supercharging miles, feel free to use my special, magical, unicorn-blessed referral code: You can also get a $100 discount on Tesla solar with that code. There is currently no use for a referral code when putting down a reservation for a Cybertruck or Model Y. 
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About the Author

is tryin’ to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He’s also the CEO of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he offers no investment advice and does not recommend investing in Tesla or any other company.