Tesla Model 3 = 20% of UK Electric Car Sales

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The UK has become one of the largest markets for sales of 100% electric cars. It’s not as large as the US or German market, but it’s not that far off. So, despite its small size geographically, it’s a big presence in BEV world and deserves some special attention.

Tesla = Top Brand & Automotive Group for EV Sales in UK

The biggest BEV story from the Brits is that they love Tesla. Tesla is the #1 brand by far — #2 Kia didn’t have even half as many sales as Tesla in the first half of the year. Volkswagen is then right behind Kia to finish off the podium.

As far as brands, as you can see, it’s practically a perfect staircase going down from Hyundai to Mercedes (well, if the chart was rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise). Also, while #1 Tesla had more than 2× the sales of #2 Kia, it had “just” 4.4 times more sales than #10 Mercedes-Benz. Still, though, considering that Mercedes-Benz is in its class and Kia is not, that’s an impressive result for Tesla. And BMW is even further down. Of the luxury brands, Audi is the highest ranked other than Tesla, landing at #8 and needing to increase its sales 3.8 times over to catch Tesla. (Of course, Tesla will be higher by then, since the Model Y isn’t even being delivered in the UK yet!)

As noted above, even if you compare by automotive group or alliance (where, for example, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, SEAT, and some other brands are all combined under the Volkswagen Group umbrella), Tesla holds the #1 spot. As you may have seen, across 10 European markets, Volkswagen Group is #1, and it’s not even close. So, it’s interesting and impressive that Tesla outperforms the German giant in the UK. I’m not finding that Tesla is #1 in any other European market (perhaps it is in a small one that I don’t have data for, but the results in 10 other markets would imply otherwise). I guess the UK is indeed a bit different.

That said, Volkswagen Group is making moves. In the 3rd quarter, it’s estimated that the group had more than 22% share of the BEV market while Tesla had just under 15%.

Top Selling Electric Vehicles in UK

From a charts perspective, the chart for the model rankings is the most striking. The Tesla Model 3 had far more than twice as many sales as the #2 Kia Niro EV and more than triple the #3 Nissan LEAF. (Side note: how the heck is the old-timer LEAF #3 in the model ranking? Brits sure do love their homebuilt LEAFs.)

There’s again a cascade down the rankings without any big drops after the drop from #1 to #2. It’s a fairly even, nicely maturing market. The biggest surprise for me is seeing the Volkswagen ID.4 so far down the list, but that could well be a case of Volkswagen prioritizing other European markets before trying to produce and sell a lot of right-hand-drive ID.4s. The other surprise is that the SKODA Enyaq isn’t in the top 20. Again, though, it may be the same issue and perhaps will see them jump onto the scene with a boom in the second half of the year or 2022 … and perhaps even give Volkswagen Group the #1 position in yet another market? It appears we may already be seeing that move with the sneak preview of Q3 numbers that I mentioned above. Speaking of …

The UK EV Market — Bigger Perspective

Max Holland produces a great big-picture monthly report on the UK automotive market and how much it’s electrifying. The most recent one goes through the 3rd quarter of 2021, not just the first half of the year. You can read that full report for more details. Here’s the core top-line point: Full electric vehicles accounted for 15.2% of auto sales in the UK in September, while plugin hybrids accounted for another 6.4%.


Looking back through the prior months in 2021, here are 8 more charts:


As we can see, the BEV share of the British automotive market typically grew month after month in the first three quarters of this year. Will that trend continue in the last quarter? Typically, the 4th quarter is the best quarter for BEV sales, so we expect we will see record BEV share at this time.

As far as which electric models, which brands, and which automotive groups will lead the sales rush at the end of 2021, that’s the question! Place your bets now and let us know your thoughts down in the comments.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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