BMW 330e

Electric vehicle sales surge to record high

Image credit: BMW

Electric vehicles sales in the UK reached a record high in August, accounting for one in every 12 new car registrations.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said that hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric cars made up eight per cent of the overall market. The total number of electric vehicles was up 23 per cent, year on year.

This August, 7,489 electric and alternative fuel vehicles were sold, up from 3,968 sold in August 2017. Taking into account all car and fuel types, 94,094 cars were sold in the month. August is traditionally the second-weakest month for car sales in Britain, as many buyers wait for the plate change in September.

Accordingly, while encouraged by the rise in EV sales, Mike Hawes, SMMT’s chief executive, advised against getting carried away: “August is always a small month in new car registrations ahead of the important plate-change month of September... it would be wrong to view the market as booming.”

The surge in electric vehicles has come at a time when the cost of petrol and diesel on the forecourt have risen dramatically, with the average price at the highest level since July 2014. Prices at the pumps have increased in eight of the last 12 months, according to the RAC, with both types of fuel now 13p more expensive than this time last year.

The long-term trends for electric vehicles remain positive. According to web site, the UK’s overall electric vehicle picture is made up of 166,000 plug-in cars, 5,500 plug-in vans, 77 plug-in models available and 17,456 charge points nationwide.

Figures published by the SMMT show that electric car sales in the UK have risen from a low base of around 500 cars per month during the first half of 2014 to almost 4,000 per month during 2017. 2018’s average is higher still, at 4,800 registrations a month.

According to figures from the Department for Transport, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the best-selling plug-in vehicle in the UK, with more than 33,600 cars sold. The second-most popular electric car is the Nissan Leaf, with over 21,600 Leafs sold. This actually makes it the best-selling pure electric vehicle, as opposed to hybrids such as the Outlander. Third place is taken by the fast-rising BMW 330e, which had sold approximately 10,000 units by the end of Q1 2018 in a little over two years since its launch.

While the August figures are encouraging, the UK’s total number of electric vehicle registrations only amount to approximately two per cent of all cars. Norway leads the way in Europe, with 48 per cent, in a country where these vehicles are run almost entirely by the nation’s hydropower resource. China has also seen strong growth in electric vehicles, registering a 154 per cent increase year on year in April 2018 with 142,445 new electric vehicles.

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