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UK Hits Record 12.1% Plugin Electric Vehicle Market Share In October

Another month gone, another electric vehicle market share record is broken. The UK surpassed 12% share in October, the highest yet of any “normal” (non covid lockdown) month, well above the 10.5% result of last month. Year-to-date cumulative plugin share is now 9.1% and is tracking to break 10% by year’s end.

The combined 12.1% plugin result comprised mostly full battery electric vehicles (BEVs) at 6.6% of the total market, with plugin hybrids (PHEVs) gaining 5.5% share. This is a slight increase in weighting of PHEVs over the year-to-date contributions of 5.5% BEV and 3.6% PHEV. The cumulative tally for 2020 so far stands at 9.1% plugin share, up from just 2.7% at this point last year.

As usual, we don’t yet have any detailed BEV model sales data for October, beyond a few anecdotes. Recall that many of the UK’s top 10 selling autos do have plugin variants, even though the industry association, the SMMT, doesn’t break out variant data:

SMMT UK Best Selling Autos / Image Source: SMMT

We know that the #1 best selling BEV this year, the Tesla Model 3 did not receive a shipment in October, and consequently had few sales. For context, in the first half of 2020 the Model 3 took a huge 30% of the UK BEV market, and will likely finish the year in a similarly strong position.

Tesla Model 3 / Image: Tesla

The Nissan LEAF has long been the #2 best selling BEV in the UK, with typically just over 10% share of the UK BEV market, and significantly ahead of the #3 and #4 spots. Those spots are seeing a tight race between the MG ZS EV and the Jaguar I-PACE, with the latter pulling slightly ahead by early September (the last solid model data we have) with 7.8% share of the year-to-date BEV market at that time.

MG Motor UK reported that their ZS EV had another good month in October, with the brand overall gaining 7.7% of the UK October plugin market, so around 1314 unit sales. This result will have been mostly the MG ZS EV and perhaps a small number of its PHEV MG HS model. The incoming MG5 touring wagon BEV may not yet have seen any significant volume of deliveries in October, but should start to see volume in November.

The Renault ZOE likely remains in the #5 spot, and had taken 6.2% of the UK BEV market by early September. We don’t yet have sales data on the Volkswagen ID.3 in the UK but the newcomer certainly has the medium-term potential to displace the ZOE, and even the Jaguar I-PACE and MG ZS EV to get into the #3 position in the UK market.

Arguably, the ID.3 may even threaten the #2 spot of the similarly priced Nissan LEAF (check out this UK head-to-head review):

Year to date, the UK’s plugin market share now stands at a cumulative 9.1% and is quickly being lifted higher by the record performance of the past two months, each seeing share climb above 10%.

November and December in the UK have traditionally seen a huge upswing in plugin sales over and above the rest of the year. 2019 saw October share at 4.4%, November at 5.8% and December at 6.6%.

If the same pattern of relative upswing holds at the end of this year, the full year 2020 UK plugin share should easily break through the 10% mark. What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


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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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