Electric car sales UK: Tesla Model 3 remains in top 10 for June

New-car registrations are beginning to recover with dealers open once again; electric and plug-in hybrid market share is growing

Tesla Model 3

The UK car market began to recover from the coronavirus-enforced shutdown in June, but registration numbers overall were still down nearly 35% on the same month last year, and year-to-date the market is down by 48.5%.

The Tesla Model 3 continued to sell strongly: it was the highest-selling pure-electric car in the UK during June, and the ninth best-selling model overall for the month, coming in ahead of the Volkswagen Tiguan.

Electrified car sales as a proportion of the overall total continued to grow: 8,903 pure-electric cars were sold in June 2020, which is a 6.1% share of the market and a 262% increase compared to June 2019. There were also 4,926 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) sold, representing 3.4% of the market and a 117% increase on June 2019.

Year-to-date, pure-electric cars account for 4.7% of all passenger cars sold, and plug-in hybrids for 3%. Sales of pure-electric cars are up nearly 159% year-to-date and PHEVs have shown a 28.9% increase. 

Back in April, the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) revised its outlook for car sales in 2020 as a whole; it now expects just 1.68 million new cars to be registered this year, which would be the lowest annual figure seen since 1992.

Mike Hawes, the SMMT's chief executive said at the time: "A strong new-car market supports a healthy economy and as Britain starts to plan for recovery, we need car retail to be in the vanguard. Safely restarting this most critical sector and revitalising what will, inevitably, be subdued demand will be key to unlocking manufacturing and accelerating the UK’s economic regeneration."

The UK hybrid and electric-car market in 2019

Electric-car sales shot up by 220% in December 2019, ensuring that battery-electric vehicle registrations ended the year with a record 1.6% share of the overall market. A total of 37,850 electric vehicles joined the UK’s roads last year, up from 15,510 in 2018. This was despite total car sales – which are still dominated by petrols and diesels – falling by 2.4% over the 12 months of 2019.

Elsewhere, plug-in hybrid registrations rose for the second month in succession in December 2019, with 21.8% more PHEVs sold then compared to December 2018. Total sales for the year remained significantly down, however, with 17.8% fewer plug-in hybrids being registered compared with 2018. Battery-electric vehicles now represent a larger proportion of the new car market than plug-in hybrids.

Sales of petrol-electric mild-hybrids increased on 2018 levels: 26,316 sales represents a 172.1% increase, although that number is dwarfed by the 740.5% increase achieved by diesel-electric hybrids.

The most popular fully-electric car was the Tesla Model 3, though part of this is due to pent up demand for a car that only launched in 2019. The Nissan Leaf was the second best-seller, with the Jaguar I-Pace in third. The most popular plug-in hybrid was the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, followed by the BMW 3 Series and BMW 5 Series. The new LEVC taxi made the list, too, sandwiched between the MINI Countryman hybrid and Volvo XC90 in sixth place.

While the overall market share for electric and hybrid cars remained low, demand for these models was rising at a rapid rate: Kia boosted supply of its popular e-Niro SUV in order to clear its lengthy waiting list.