UK September Plugin Vehicle Market Share Hits 10.5%, Up 3x Year On Year

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The UK’s September plugin electric vehicle market share hit 10.5%, the highest ever level in “normal” (non-lockdown) trading months, up almost 3x from September 2019’s 3.7%. The overall auto market was down just 4.4% from September 2019, with diesels taking a massive 38.4% hit.

September’s 10.5% combined plugin share was dominated by full battery electrics (BEVs) at 6.7% share, with plugin hybrids (PHEVs) taking 3.8%. The year-to-date cumulative plugin share now stands at 8.8%, with BEVs contributing 5.4% and PHEVs 3.4%.

Diesel suffered a precipitous drop from September 2019’s 22.2% share to just 14.3% this September, and a decline of over 38% in sales volume. At this rate, UK plugin electric vehicle share will regularly surpass diesel share within a few months.

UK’s Best Selling Autos Already Have Plugin Variants

We have only anecdotal data on which plugin vehicles were the best sellers in September. In last month’s report we reviewed solid data on which were the best sellers in the first half of 2020, so here’s a reminder of the background trend:

In terms of BEVs, the obvious newcomer joining this party in September was the Volkswagen ID.3 which we know had UK customer deliveries, but we don’t yet know the actual number. The ID.3 actually only started delivering to UK customers in volume from 21st September, according to VW UK.

The Polestar brand recorded 218 overall registrations in September, and almost all of these will have been their Polestar 2 model — a decent start for the newcomer, but not enough to enter the top 5 bestsellers.

The UK’s overwhelmingly most popular plugin (see above graph), the Tesla Model 3, made its usual end-of-quarter push in September, and probably took the month’s top spot, unless the ID.3 really hit it out of the park (unlikely in the 10 days of deliveries).

Tesla Model 3. Image: Tesla

MG Motor UK announced that they sold 1,176 of their MG ZS EV in September, around a third of their entire UK brand sales, and 5.4% of the UK’s BEV sales for the month, which should keep the MG ZS within or near to the top 5 best selling plugins in September. Note that the new MG5 touring wagon BEV is arriving soon in the UK and will likely be very popular given it’s ICE-breaking price point.

The Nissan LEAF is also a regular in the UK top 5 BEVs list and likely put in a decent performance again last month. Jaguar has recently been pushing the I-PACE fairly hard, with special offers, and it may also have stayed in or near the list of top 5 BEVs.

Beyond these usual suspects for BEV favourites, it’s worth remembering that several of the UK’s overall best selling autos also now have plugin variants:

SMMT UK Best Selling Autos / Image Source: SMMT

Full BEV variants exist for the Vauxhall Corsa, VW Golf and MINI (the Volvo XC40 has a BEV variant delivering in early 2021).  PHEV variants exist for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, VW Golf, MINI and Volvo XC40. Others are coming.

Of the top 10 overall best sellers, only the VW Golf BEV scored decent sales in H1 2020 (see earlier chart above), but the more recently released MINI and Corsa BEVs are likely quickly growing in sales.


September has seen Europe’s 3 largest auto markets, Germany, France and the UK, each achieving over 10% plugin market share. Aggregated, plugin electrics took 12% share of these 3 markets, an outstanding result.

Adding in the even greater progress from Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and other European nations, this now puts Europe on track to achieve at least 10% full year 2020 plugin market share, and well over 1 million unit volume, huge growth from 2019’s 3.6% result.

What’s your prediction for Europe’s full year 2020 plugin share? And 2021? Please share your thoughts  (preferably with your rationale) in the comments below.

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Dr. Maximilian Holland

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking. 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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