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UK Plugin EV Share Almost Doubles To 17.1% In July, Combustion At Record Low

The UK, Europe’s third largest auto market, saw plugin electric vehicle market share hit 17.1% in July 2021, from 8.9% in July 2020. Old-school combustion powertrains hit a record low of 51.9% with diesels at just 7.1%. Overall auto market volume was down over 22% from the long term seasonal average, at 123,296 units.

 

July’s combined plugin result of 17.1% comprised 9% full battery electrics (BEVs) and 8% plugin hybrids (PHEVs), a ratio roughly in line with recent months. The cumulative year-to-date plugin share now stands at 14.8% (with 8.2% contributed by BEVs).

Non-electric-assist combustion powertrains had their worst month in the modern era, with share down to 51.9% (from 74.5% a year ago). Diesels took the smallest share of any of the powertrains, at a record low of just 7.1% (from 16.5% YoY).

Popular BEV Brands In July

As usual, we don’t yet have detailed market data on July’s best selling BEV models, but we do have some BEV brand data, based on DVLA registrations (the only caveat being that the data excludes custom licence plates, roughly 10% of new sales).

With the long term favourite BEV brand, Tesla, not receiving an international shipment in July, Volkswagen brand took the lead, with some 15.5% of DVLA BEV registrations in July:

Kia and MG Motor were neck-and-neck for the #2 spot in July, and Hyundai and Audi filled out the top 5 ranks.

Besides BEV-only brands such as Tesla, Polestar, and Smart (and others coming soon to the UK) – MG Motor and Jaguar win prizes for being most serious about transitioning their offerings away from combustion and towards BEVs.

Of MG’s total UK registrations in July, some 41.3% were BEV, whilst Jaguar scored an even higher 43.1% (though at half of MG’s volume and over 2x the typical pricing). Other brands doing well in this metric included DS, Renault and Porsche, with 30%, 28% and 26% respectively.

Volkswagen and Kia’s BEVs, although delivering in more volume than other brands, still only represented around 13% of their overall UK vehicle sales in July, only fractionally above the market average 9% BEV share.

Outlook

When Tesla receives an international shipment to the UK (typically towards the last month of each quarter), their BEVs take almost one third of the entire UK BEV market, and give a big boost to the UK’s plugin market share in that month.

Obviously the flip side is that in Tesla’s off-months, like July, the UK’s available BEV volume, and thus BEV market share (and combined plugins share), hits a temporary trough. See the 2nd chart above for the peaks and troughs.

Despite this, with decent PHEV contributions, July’s combined plugin share was essentially unchanged from June, which is a very positive result in Tesla’s absence.

August (or sometimes September) has historically seen a notable up-tick in plugin market share in the UK, though the past is not always a good guide to the future.

Given the popularity of Teslas in the UK, it’s easy to predict that a major up-tick will certainly come when Tesla starts delivering the Model Y. We know that left-hand drive versions of the Model Y are already being produced in Shanghai (for the Hong Kong market). It’s not hard to imagine that the next few months might see a large shipment arriving in the UK.

If this happens regularly before the end of 2021, December’s plugin share will almost certainly be above 25%, perhaps nearer to 30%. 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 MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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