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August UK Plugin EV Hits 18.3%, Up Almost 2x Year-On-Year

The UK  auto market, Europe’s third largest, saw plugin electric vehicle share of 18.3% in August 2021, up 1.9x from 9.76% in August 2020. Overall auto market volume was down 7.6% from long term seasonal norms, at 68,033 units. The Volkswagen brand dominated all electric market share at 15.4%.

August’s combined plugin result of 18.3% comprised 10.9% full battery electrics (BEVs) and 7.4% plugin hybrids (PHEVs), a weighting in line with recent months. 2021 Cumulative plugin share now stands at just over 15% (up from 8.1% YoY), with BEVs at 8.4%.

With plugless hybrids and mild hybrids (48 volt) also selling well, non-electric-assist combustion powertrains fell to their lowest ever share, at 50.75%, with diesels at just 7.46%.

Note that both these categories of plugless hybrid are a temporary quick-fix technology (that recapture some fossil fuel energy via regen braking) and will themselves soon be eroded by plugins (and ultimately by BEVs alone).

Popular BEV Brands

As usual, we don’t have timely detailed model data for the UK market. The latest model data we do have is from the end of June, from EAFOThe UK’s top 5 most popular BEVs in 2021 H1 were the Tesla Model 3 (14.700 units), Kia Niro (5769), Nissan Leaf (4550), VW ID.3 (4455), and Audi e-tron (3606).

We also have August’s approximate BEV brand share via the UK vehicle licensing database (graph below). Note that the data excludes the roughly 10% of the new registrations that wear custom license plates, but the brand share should be fairly proportionate.

With long-term favourite Tesla making just a modest UK shipment in August, the Volkswagen brand took the biggest share of new BEV registrations, with Kia in second, and Audi third:

 

The fact that the VW brand dominated in August (despite the ID.3 trending only 4th in H1) suggests that the ID.4 is now delivering in decent volumes in the UK market.

In terms of automotive group share in August, Volkswagen Group (which includes Audi, Skoda, Seat, and Porsche amongst others) was dominant. Hyundai Motor Group and Stellantis took second and third places:

 

Tesla’s pattern of making a big end-of-quarter delivery push means that it will likely lead automotive group share at the end of Q3.

Outlook

August’s 18.3% plugin share is already strong, but with Tesla pushing volumes once again in September, the UK’s next result will almost certainly be above 20% and then keep climbing higher towards year end.

There are now a number of compelling new BEVs arriving in the UK, including the Audi Q4 e-tron (better value sibling to the very popular Audi e-tron), the Hyundia Ioniq 5, the Kia EV6 (from October), and – sometime soon – the Tesla Model Y (no order page yet).

At the more affordable end, the MG5 wagon has just updated its battery and now has a longer range (250 miles WLTP), amongst the best value BEVs “per mile range” on the market (under £25k if you shop around). Stellantis’ well-balanced and affordable CMP-platform cars (Vauxhall/Opel Corsa and many siblings, also starting from well under £25k) seemingly keep launching more variants under their various brands, and keep ramping overall volume.

Having said that, the UK certainly needs even more affordable options in the £10k to £20k price range. Perhaps BYD can help.

Combining such BEVs with the increasing number of PHEVs on offer, the UK’s plugin share should continue to climb strongly throughout the rest of the year and see December hitting close to 30%. The full year cumulative share should reach 20% or slightly above, around double the 10.7% of 2020.

What are your predictions? 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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