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UK EV Market Share At 5.7% In February, Doubling Year On Year, As Diesel Sales Collapse

February saw the UK plug-in passenger vehicle market share more than double year-on-year to 5.7%. Meanwhile, diesel vehicle sales dropped over 27% from February 2019, and now represent under 22% of the auto market, one of the lowest figures in Europe.

February saw the UK plug-in passenger vehicle market share more than double year-on-year to 5.7%. Meanwhile, diesel vehicle sales dropped over 27% from February 2019, and now represent under 22% of the auto market, one of the lowest figures in Europe.

Due to February habitually being the low month for UK auto sales, year-to-date EV market share remains close to 5.9% overall, strongly influenced by January’s record figures.

The UK appears to be trending for at least 6% EV market share in 2020 overall, around double the 3.1% of full-year 2019. EV market share is currently divided fairly evenly between full electrics (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), with a 5:4 ratio.

Diesel sales in the UK have continued to plummet from recent highs. In full-year 2018, diesel’s share of the UK passenger vehicle market was 31.5%. So far in 2020, diesel share is just 21.9%. In most other European nations, diesel still holds 30-something percent market share, though is dropping everywhere.

The UK auto trade association, the SMMT, only releases figures for the overall top 10 best-selling models, and no EVs made that list in February. It’s likely that regulars such as the Renault Zoe, the Nissan LEAF, the new MG ZS EV, and the Tesla Model 3 all remain popular BEV choices, delivery schedules allowing. The Mini-E, priced from £24,400 “on the road,” will be popular in the UK once it becomes available in volume in the coming few months.

MG ZS EV. Image Courtesy: MG

With UK government spending plans for 2020–2021 being unveiled next week, the SMMT is calling for the current 20% VAT (sales tax) to be waived on plug-in vehicles to help boost sales, pitching the idea as a way to achieve national CO2 reduction targets. The SMMT is recommending the proposed tax exemption should co-exist with existing incentives. These include the £3,500 plug-in car grant for BEVs, and existing waivers and reductions in annual road tax. They also call for the plug-in grant to be reinstated for PHEVs, reversing 2019’s cancellation.

“Industry has invested in the technology, with a huge influx of new zero- and ultra-low emission models coming to market in 2020, and we now need government to match this with a comprehensive package of incentives and infrastructure spending to accelerate demand.” —Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive.

The UK is currently on track for around 2.4 million auto sales in 2020, according to LMC Automotive estimates. If EV market share can maintain the current rate of around 5.5 to 6%, that will mean 130,000~140,000 EV sales for the full year, almost double the 2019 number.

Added to the other large EV markets of Germany, France, Sweden, and Norway, along with strong growth in all other European nations, the region is on track for around 1 million EV sales in 2020.


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Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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