UK 14.7% EV plug-in share in May – Tesla and VW most popular brands


The UK car market saw plug-in electric vehicles take a 14.7% share in May 2021, the highest share on record this year. Tesla and Volkswagen were competing for the most popular all-electric brand. The overall automotive market, at 157,000 units, is still down 13% from seasonal standards.

May’s combined 14.7% plug-in result included 8.4% full electric batteries (BEVs) and 6.3% plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), in line with recent weightings. The cumulative share of plugins since the start of the year now stands at 13.8%, an increase of almost 2 times compared to 7.2% at this stage in 2020.

Old-fashioned (non-hybrid) diesel powertrains continued to decline, reaching a record 9.87% share. Old-fashioned gasoline powertrains were also at their 2nd lowest share on record (as of December 2020), at 43.85%:

Most popular BEV brands

We do not have timely detailed BEV model data for the UK market, but we do have brand data from the UK DVLA database, via polls from Tesla (via Model 3) and Volkswagen (via ID.3 and ID.4) remain the most popular brands with 14% and 13.3% of the BEV market respectively, with Hyundai, Kia and Audi filling the top 5 places:

Note that the DVLA data (chart above) has a different methodology than the SMMT data (the previous 2 charts), so will not match exactly, but the overall picture of brand weighting is indicative.

At the automotive group level, VW Group dominated in May, taking 23% of the UK BEV market. The Hyundai automotive group was in 2nd position with 17% and Tesla in 3rd with 14%.

The VW Group will likely extend this lead in the short term, as the Skoda Enyaq will soon deliver in volume to the UK. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 and its sister Kia EV6 are expected to give the Hyundai automotive group a boost when they are delivered in summer and fall respectively. Tesla’s Model Y is expected to prove popular, but will only likely ship to the UK in volume sometime in 2022.

Tesla Model 3 / Image: Tesla

With an ever higher volume of compelling and increasingly affordable BEV models entering the UK market, and with most UK new car buyers now aware of the benefits of BEVs, the rapid growth rate of electric vehicles will continue. The months of June, July and August have historically seen a noticeable increase in the share of plugins in the UK, and we can reasonably expect a share of 20% or more in August.

The cumulative share of plugins over the whole of 2021 in the UK is still on track to end at near or slightly above 20%, which is double the 10.7% for the year last. I estimate that December will see a share of over 30%, maybe in the top 30. What do you think? Please let us know in the comments.

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