Electric car sales UK: More EVs registered in 2021 than previous five years combined

UK new-car registrations remained almost 30% down on pre-Covid levels in 2021, but there was an explosion in market share for electric models

Tesla Model 3

More new fully electric cars were registered in the UK during 2021 than in the previous five years combined, according to the latest data from industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

A total of 190,727 battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) hit UK roads during 2021, representing a 76% increase on 2020's volume and an 11.6% share of the overall 2021 new-car market.

The good news for electric-car sales was tempered by a subdued performance for the UK new-car market overall, which grew by 1% on 2020's Covid-affected volume, but was still 28.7% smaller than it was in pre-pandemic 2019.

A total of 1.65 million new cars entered the UK market during 2021, with petrol and mild-hybrid petrol cars making up 58.3% of sales, diesels and mild-hybrid diesels 14.2%, fully electric cars 11.6%, non-plug-in hybrids 8.9% and plug-in hybrids 7% of the total.

UK's best-selling electric and plug-in hybrid cars

The Tesla Model 3 was by far the UK's best-selling electric car overall in 2021, with nearly 35,000 examples registered, compared to just over 12,000 of the second best-selling EV, the Kia e-Niro. The Volkswagen ID.3 completed the top three, with just over 11,000 examples registered.

The Model 3 was also the second best-selling car of any fuel type in the UK in 2021, behind only the Vauxhall Corsa supermini, which is available with both petrol and electric power and sold just under 41,000 units overall. The best-selling pure-electric cars in the UK across 2021 were as follows:

ModelUnits
1. Tesla Model 334,783
2. Kia e-Niro12,271
3. Volkswagen ID.311,032
4. Nissan Leaf9,052
5. Audi e-tron7,396
6. Hyundai Kona Electric7,199
7. MINI Electric6,615
8. Renault ZOE5,778
9. Vauxhall Corsa-e5,605
10. MG ZS EV5,380

While the best-selling plug-in hybrids during 2021 were as follows:

Commenting on 2021's figures, SMMT chief Mike Hawes said: "Despite the challenges, the undeniable bright spot is the growth in electric car uptake. A record-breaking year for the cleanest, greenest vehicles is testament to the investment made by the industry over the past decade and the attractiveness of the technology.

"The biggest obstacle to our shared net zero ambitions is not product availability, however, but cost and charging infrastructure. Recent cuts to incentives and home charging grants should be reversed and we need to boost the rollout of public on-street charging with mandated targets, providing every driver, wherever they live, with the assurance they can charge where and when they want."

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