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Electric car market statistics

The last three years have seen a remarkable surge in demand for electric vehicles in the UK – new registrations of plug-in cars increased from 3,500 in 2013 to more than 85,000 by March 2017. There has also been a huge increase in the number of electric and plug-in hybrid models available in the UK with many of the top manufacturers in the UK now offering an EV as part of their model range.
The following sections present UK sales of electric cars and vans since 2010, and the total number of EVs registered in the UK. Also charted are the number of models currently available as well as the number of publicly available charging points according to the Zap-Map database.

How many electric vehicles have been sold in the UK

Monthly figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that electric car sales in the UK have risen dramatically during the past two years. While only around 500 electric cars were registered per month during the first half of 2014, this has now risen to an average of almost 3,000 per month during 2016. By the end of 2016, 35,402 plug-in cars had been registered, the highest number ever. As a percentage of new car registrations, electric cars now represent around 1.3 per cent of the total new car market in the UK. That figure for the first two months of 2017 sits at 1.5 per cent.

The cumulative figure also shows sustained and dramatic growth of the EV car and van market. According to the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and SMMT, more than 85,000 claims have been made through the Plug-in Car and Van Grant schemes.
Taken together with the fact that a significant number of electric cars and vans which are not eligible for the grant schemes have also been registered, the total UK light-duty electric fleet is 90,000 electric vehicles strong.

What are the UK's most popular EV models?

Latest figures from the Department for Transport show that the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the most popular plug-in vehicle by some margin. With more than 23,500 units sold within three years, it has long since overtaken the second most popular electric car, Nissan's Leaf. More than 14,000 Leafs have been sold in the UK though, well ahead of BMW's i3 in third place, and comfortably putting the Nissan in first position in terms of pure-electric vehicles.
A similar tale of rapidly rising sales can be seen in positions four and five, with the Mercedes Benz C 350 e selling more than 4,750 units in around 18 months, just overtaking fifth placed Renault Zoe in the latest quarter's results, which has sold a little under 4,750 in more than three years of being available.
Plug-in hybrids have rapidly taken an increasing share of the electric car market - currently sitting at a record 63% - a trend that only looks set to continue with more models confirmed to go on sale in the UK within the next year. From accounting for less than a quarter of plug-in sales at the beginning of 2014, within two years they represent almost two thirds the overall number of plug-in cars sold by 2016.

A key indicator as to the strength of the UK market for electric vehicles is the number of segments covered by the EV models currently available. While the main nine EVs available in 2011 covered four body styles - city cars, small family cars, small vans and sports coupés - the 45 electric cars and vans available in 2016 now include superminis, large family cars, hatchbacks, estates, SUVs, executive models, and medium-sized vans.
Previous experience of introducing new technologies into the automotive market shows that having a broad range of both models and body styles is key to ensuring strong uptake of new power-trains. With the large number of brands and classes now available, the EV market has a very strong base on which to continue to grow.

How many EV charging points are there in the UK?

As a result of sustained government and private investment, the UK network of EV charging points has increased from a few hundred in 2011 to more than 4,200 charging locations, 6,500 charging devices and 11,750 connectors by October 2016. The proportion of charger types has also changed dramatically during that time with an increase in high power (rapid) units being installed across the UK.
There are three main EV charger types: 'slow' charging units (up to 3kW) which are best suited for 6-8 hours overnight; 'fast' chargers (7-22kW) which can fully recharge some models in 3-4 hours; and 'rapid' charging units (43-50kW) which are able to provide an 80% charge in around 30 minutes. Rapid chargers also come in two charge point types – AC and DC – depending on whether they use alternating current or direct current.