Electric cars taking off in the UK

  • Electric cars sold in the UK
    Electric cars sold in the UK

    Record year of plug-in vehicle uptake as more than 28,000 electric cars are registered, eclipsing combined totals for every year since 2010

  • 2015 plug-in car market growth almost doubles total of previous year with the 14,532 plug-in sales recorded in 2014 surpassed by 94%

Plug-in vehicle registrations reached a record high in 2015 as 28,188 new ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) arrived on UK roads – more than the past five years’ totals rolled into one. The switch to electric power marked a 94% annual rise compared to the previous year – while the popularity of plug-in vehicles shows no sign of slowing with an even greater selection of ULEVs due to be launched in 2016.

Analysis by government and motor-industry-backed Go Ultra Low reveals that ULEV registrations for 2015 eclipse the 21,486 total of plug-in vehicles sold between 2010 and 2014. Plug-in power is becoming a mainstream option for drivers alongside petrol and diesel powered cars as more plug-in vehicles make up the 2.6m new cars registered in 2015.

Fueling the demand is a greater choice of models, with 30 pure electric or plug-in hybrid cars now available in the UK, ranging from high-performance sports cars to capable family run-arounds, and more are on the way in 2016. Last year, the plug-in hybrid vehicles proved most popular among motorists, with 18,254 registrations, a 137% increase on 2014. Fully electric vehicle sales increased 48%, recording 9,934 registrations.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP said, "The UK has one of the fastest growing ultra-low emission vehicle markets in the world and these record figures show more and more people across the country are enjoying the benefits of this cheap-to-run and green technology.

"British drivers have a wider choice of vehicles than ever before and we have increased our support for plug-in vehicles to £600 million over the next five years to cut emissions, create jobs and support our cutting-edge industries."

Head of Go Ultra Low, Poppy Welch, said, “This sustained level of growth represents how plug-in vehicles are becoming the norm for drivers who want to buy a fun, economical, stylish new car. Now, instead of facing high running costs, motorists can reap the rewards of an economical ultra low emission vehicle, which can save the typical car owner hundreds of pounds every year. With this growth showing no signs of stopping, it’s proof that electric car ownership is the new normal. Now, it’s not a question of will motorists choose electric, but when."

Local trends

With 9,186 ULEVs registered, the South East of England proved to be the region that saw the most new electric cars, each enjoying assistance from Government’s Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG). The next biggest regions taking advantage of the contributory funding were the South West ranked second (4,420) and the West Midlands third (3,371).

Every region of the United Kingdom recorded improved year-on-year registrations for plug-in hybrid cars, while almost all areas of the country experienced growth in pure electric car registrations.

Plug-in bestsellers

As registrations of all fully electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles continue to soar, uptake of particular makes and model of ULEV has also increased among drivers who have made the switch to electric power. The top three bestselling EVs make up just over a third of all plug-in sales, demonstrating how there is a plug-in vehicle for every occasion. From sports cars to family-orientated SUVs, there are 27 other plug-in cars for drivers to choose from.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV rules registrations for the second year running, 118% up on the previous year’s figures. The top three is intact without change as the Nissan LEAF ranks second with a 29% hike in uptake while the BMW i3 continues to enjoy popularity among motorists, coming third once more with registrations 59% up year-on-year.

UK top-ranked ultra low emission cars for full year 2015

Rank Ultra low emission vehicle 2015 registrations 2014 registrations Year-on-year growth
1 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 11,681 5,364 118%
2 Nissan LEAF 5,236 4,051 29%
3 BMW i3 2,213 1,393 59%

Future market

Government anticipates that 5% of new car registrations (around 100,000 units) will be ultra low emission by 2020 – an expectation that appears on track in light of recent growth. As more motorists look to manage running costs, a money-saving end goal could be providing the momentum for the surge in electric vehicle popularity.

Electric cars can be driven for as little as 2p per mile, compared with 10-12p for a conventionally powered car. Furthering their appeal, the variety of city, family, SUV and sports cars provides the practicality motorists crave, while some boast hybrid range of up to 700 miles.

Go Ultra Low exists to help motorists understand the benefits, cost savings and capabilities of the raft of ultra low emission vehicles on the market. The collaborative campaign is the first of its kind, bringing together a consortium of leading vehicle manufacturers, Government and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Further details are available at www.GoUltraLow.com.

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