Electric car sales UK: demand for electric cars up by 151.8%

Sales of electric cars jumped again in October, with a 151.8% increase on last year’s numbers

Electric-car sales leapt by 151.8% in October, with 3,162 new battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) joining Britain’s roads.

Data compiled by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) also shows that 125% more electric cars have been sold so far in 2019 compared to the same point in 2018, with registrations totalling 28,259. The rise comes despite the overall car market – which is still dominated by petrol and diesel vehicles – declining by 2.9% in the same period.

Demand for electric cars is rising rapidly: popular models like the Kia e-Niro and Hyundai Kona Electric sold out their entire allocation for 2019 in the first few weeks of the year alone. However, electric cars only account for a small – albeit rising – share of the overall market, with 1.4% of all cars sold in the UK this year featuring an electric powertrain.

Elsewhere, plug-in hybrid registrations dropped again, although not as severely as seen in previous months: 1.7% fewer PHEVs were sold in October, however plug-in hybrids are 26.7% down overall compared to 2018.

Sales of petrol-electric hybrids – such as the Toyota Prius Hybrid and Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid – have increased year-on-year: 1,732 sales represents an 8.7% increase on October 2018.

Late in 2019, the Government’s plug-in car grant was restructured, reducing the discount for electric cars from £4,500 to £3,500. No plug-in hybrid vehicle currently on sale is eligible, with this type of car having previously attracting an incentive worth £2,500.

Reacting to the latest figures, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "The growth in alternatively fuelled cars is very welcome, showing increasing buyer appetite for these new technologies. The overall market remains tough, however, with October now the year’s eighth month of decline and in need of an injection of confidence.

“Whether the general election delivers a ‘bounce’ to the economy remains to be seen, but, with attractive deals and an ever-greater choice of low, ultra-low and zero-emission models arriving in the UK’s showrooms, consumers have every incentive to consider buying a new car.”