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Tesla Model 3 Is UK’s Best Selling Auto *Again* In May, EV Market Share Hits 16%

May 2020 saw UK plugin electric vehicle market share hit 16%, with the cumulative 2020 share now standing at 7.2%, almost triple 2019’s result.

May 2020 saw UK plugin electric vehicle market share hit 16%, with the cumulative 2020 share now standing at 7.2%, almost triple 2019’s result.

The Tesla Model 3 again takes the prize for best selling auto (of any kind) overall, maintaining the result from April.

UK auto market volume was down 89% year on year, but auto dealers are now reopening for business, promising better results going forwards.

The mix of plugins was strongly dominated by pure electrics (BEVs) over plugin hybrids (PHEVs), with a ratio of 3:1.

The Tesla Model 3 was the outstanding performer, not only taking 35% of the BEV market, but taking the overall top spot of any vehicle model sold in the country in May (data courtesy of SMMT). This is due to a combination of strong demand and Tesla’s innovative contactless delivery protocol:

The overall UK auto market was down 51.4% in the first 5 months of 2020, but with auto dealers and showrooms now reopening (already in England, imminently in Scotland, Wales, and N. Ireland), the results should quickly improve going forwards.

Industry association head Mike Hawes issued the following release:

“After a second month of shutdown and the inevitable yet devastating impact on the market, this week’s re-opening of dealerships is a pivotal moment for the entire industry and the thousands of people whose jobs depend on it. … Ensuring people have the confidence to invest in the latest vehicles will not only help them get on the move safely, but these new models will also help address some of the environmental challenges the UK faces in the long term.” —Mike Hawes, SMMT CEO

Unlike other European countries, the UK government has not yet issued any incentives to boost the overall auto industry or electric vehicles, but the Guardian reports that behind-the-scenes discussions are underway. It’s not yet clear if these will favour EVs or just be a broad-brush boost to all auto sales. Politically, the pressure will be on to ensure any support package leans towards reducing carbon emissions and pollution.

Either way, the UK’s year-to-date EV share result of 7.2% is already almost 3 times the full year 2019 result of 2.9%. Unless new incentives tip the playing field in favour of combustion vehicles, we should see at least 8% EV market share over the full year 2020.


Article photo courtesy of Tesla.

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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, or contact him via LinkedIn.


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