Tesla Model 3

Electric car sales rise by record 377 per cent

Zero emission car registrations in August saw the biggest percentage growth, up 377.5%, to 3,147 units, to take a record 3.4% market share.

4,014 hybrid electric cars also joined UK roads, an uplift of 36.2%. However, the decline in plug-in hybrid registrations continued, down 71.8% to just 907 vehicles. 

According to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), registrations fell by 1.6% in what is typically one of the smallest months of the year, as falling demand for diesel and plug-in hybrid vehicles continued to impact the overall market.

Registrations from both the private and fleet sectors declined in the month, down 1.7% and 3.5% respectively, as demand in the small volume business segment increased by some 962 units. Meanwhile, diesel registrations fell for the 29th month in a row, though at a slower pace than recently experienced (-12.2%), while petrol demand remained stable, up 1.0%. 

UK new car buyers can now choose from a huge range of technologies to suit their lifestyles and driving needs. In addition to the cleanest-ever petrols and diesels, the UK’s alternatively fuelled offering now includes some 27 hybrids, 27 plug-in hybrids, and 24 zero emission battery electric and hydrogen models. Exciting new powertrain technologies, the result of massive manufacturer investment, are now rapidly coming to market – with the range set to almost double over the coming year. However, with demand still lagging behind ambitious government targets, it is clear that much more needs to be done, and quickly, to address consumer concerns over cost and infrastructure to make this emerging technology more accessible.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “August is typically the new car market’s quietest month so the huge increase in EV registrations is very visible but especially welcome. It’s great to see consumers respond to the massive industry investment made over many years. While this is encouraging, these figures also show the scale of the challenge ahead. It’s a long road to zero and while manufacturers can deliver the technology, they can’t dictate the pace of uptake. To support a smooth transition and deliver environmental gains now, we need a long-term government commitment to measures that give consumers confidence to invest in the latest technologies that best suit their needs.”

The SMMT forecasts 51,000 BEV registrations in 2020 to take 2.2% market share and 52,000 PHEV registrations to take 2.3% market share.