UK April Plugin Electric Vehicle Share Over 13% Even After Grant Cuts

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The UK saw plugin electric vehicle market share at 13.25% in April 2021, with full electrics at a healthy 6.5% despite recent cuts in the government’s plugin car grant. The overall auto market continued to recover on showroom reopening, but remained down 13% from typical seasonal volume.

April’s 13.25% combined plugin result consisted of 6.8% plugin hybrids (PHEVs) and 6.5% full battery electrics (BEVs). This was only a modest swing towards PHEVs from 2021 Q1’s weightings, despite cuts to the UK’s plugin car grant, and without a shipment of the dominant Tesla Model 3 being available for delivery in April.

The grant cuts came into effect without warning on March 18th, reducing the BEVs-only grant amount from £3,000 to £2,500 and reducing the eligibility ceiling from £50,000 to £35,000. Significant benefit-in-kind tax incentives remain in place for plugins.

It remains to be seen whether the relative weighting between BEV and PHEV will change further in the coming months as things settle down from this recent change.

The 2021 cumulative plugin share now stands at 13.6%. Let’s take a look at the recent evolution of the UK auto market by powertrain share:

Which Brands Are Popular?

The UK’s auto industry association, the SMMT, don’t produce specific model sales data beyond listing the top ten overall best selling autos, many of which have plugin variants:

SMMT UK Best Selling Autos / Image Source: SMMT

We do however now have another source for UK market data, from New Automotive, which draws upon the database of the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

This DVLA data is almost real time, though is counted significantly differently from the SMMT’s market data (which is our regular source for the graphs and figures above). For example, April’s new BEV registrations in the DVLA database number 6,102 units, compared to the above SMMT count of 9,152 units. You can read more about the differences between SMMT and DVLA data, and New Automotive’s methodology, here.

I’m going to try to dig down into the data methodology differences in time for next month’s report. Nevertheless, let’s have a look at the DVLA new registration data, which is timely and does give a sense of which BEV brands are seeing high monthly volumes in the UK:

The DVLA data points to Volkswagen’s new ID series gaining the most new registrations in April. The VW ID.3 hatchback started UK deliveries in late 2020. A trickle of VW ID.4 crossovers were reported delivered by new owners starting around mid March, and likely many more in April.

Note that the Tesla Model 3, with a no-new-shipments month in April, still has a large lead in the year-to-date count, having seen a massive 6,585 sales in March (SMMT data). Other brands which were very close to the month’s top 10 in April included Mini, Jaguar, and Hyundai.

Volkswagen ID.3 and ID.4.  Image: Volkswagen

The SMMT expect plugin electric vehicles to accumulate a 15.2% share of UK sales in full year 2021:

“BEVs are now expected to account for 8.9% of registrations by year-end – down from the 9.3% initially forecast in January, in light of March’s changes to the Plug-in Car Grant. With PHEVs anticipated to take a 6.3% market share, total plug-in vehicles should comprise 15.2% of all cars registered in 2021.” (UK SMMT)

I forecast that the figure will be higher, since recent years have seen full year share trending far higher than the year-to-April plugin result (which already stands at 13.6%). Also, PHEVs are already at 6.4%, above the 6.3% full year score that SMMT is predicting. They will only climb higher from here, as will BEVs.

Right now I think that a full year result of around 20% is probable, with December very likely seeing above 30%. What are your predictions for the UK market in 2021? Please share your thoughts in the comments.



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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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