Tesla Model 3 Is Outright Bestselling Vehicle In UK – Plugin EVs take 17.2% Share

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The UK saw plugin electric vehicles take 17.2% share of the auto market in June 2021, up from 9.5% in June 2020. The Tesla Model 3 was the UK’s overall best selling vehicle (of any powertrain) in the month, with 5,468 units sold. Overall auto market volume stood at 186,000 units in June, down around 16% from long term seasonal norms.


June’s 17.2% combined plugin result comprised 10.7% full battery electrics (BEVs) and 6.5% plugin hybrids (PHEVs), which is a swing towards BEVs from recent weightings. The year-to-date cumulative plugin share now stands at 14.5%, up almost 2x from 7.7% at this point in 2020.

Full battery electric vehicles outsold old-school (non electric assist) diesel vehicles for the first time ever, selling 32% more volume. Old school diesels took just 8.1% of the market, their lowest score in decades.

Combined old-school combustion vehicles (petrol plus diesel) were also at a new record low of 54.5% share, from 76.3% a year ago. They are on track to drop below 50% within the next couple of months.

Note that many petrol and diesel vehicles are now quickly shifting over to a 48 volt mild-hybrid-assist powertrain (represented within the fast growing blue segment below), in an attempt to reduce emissions. This is only a quick-and-dirty, cheap and temporary move, as mild hybrids (and indeed all non-plugged hybrids) only slightly improve emissions over non-assisted ICE, and will not help make the required emissions in the longer term. Recall that the UK will entirely phase out the sale of non-plugin powertrains by 2030:

Most Popular BEV Brands

We don’t have broad BEV model data for the UK market, but we do know that the SMMT overall bestsellers list was topped by the Tesla Model 3, thanks to Tesla’s usual end-of-quarter push:

Note that the neither the Tesla Model 3 nor any other BEV quite yet makes it onto the cumulative year-to-date top 10 list, but the Tesla is very close indeed, probably in the 11th or 12th spot at roughly 14,900 units YTD.

We do have up to date UK BEV brand data for June from the UK DVLA database, via polling from NewAutomotive.org. The volume recorded by the DVLA differs slightly from the SMMT (the former excludes custom license plates), and is around 20% lower. But the relative brand ranking of BEVs that is apparent from the DVLA data should be fairly representative, and the data has the merit of being timely and complete (within its curtailed scope).

Tesla (via the Model 3) was obviously by far the most popular BEV brand in June with around 31% share of the BEV segment, followed by Volkswagen (via the ID.3 and ID.4) with around 9% share. Kia, Audi and Hyundai filled out the top 5 spots:


We also know that the UK emergency services are now trialling the Tesla Model 3 as a rapid response vehicle.

Tesla Model 3 / Image: Tesla UK

More BEV models are arriving thick and fast now in the UK market, and DC charging infrastructure is also quickly improving (though there’s always more to do). July and August have habitually seen a notable growth in plugin share in the UK. Will August see 20% share already? Higher?

December could still see over 30% share, perhaps closer to 40%. What are your thoughts? Please let us know 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 MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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