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UK Plugin EV Share Doubles To 26% As Tesla Model Y Debuts

The UK, Europe’s second largest plugin market, saw electric vehicle share almost double year on year to 25.6% in February. Full electrics alone took 17.7% share. Overall auto volume was down some 28% over seasonal norms, to 58,994 units. Debuting in February after a long wait, the Tesla Model Y was the best selling electric, and 4th in the overall market.

February’s combined plugin result of 25.6% comprised 17.7% full battery electrics (BEVs), and 7.9% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). This strong weighting towards BEV is in line with recent months.

Petrol-only powertrain share was down to 40.6%, its second lowest ever (from last December), a significant fall off from the 52.1% of February 2021.

The temporary “quick fix” transition technology of plugless hybrids (both HEV and mild) may have already peaked, seeing 27.2% in February, from over 30% in mid 2021.

UK’s Popular BEV Brands

With Tesla’s international shipping arriving again in February, and after a long wait, the Tesla Model Y saw its UK debut. It took the number one spot for best selling BEVs in the month, and #4 in the overall UK auto market. Its older sibling, the Model 3 was right behind, at #5 overall.

For context, here’s the list for February’s overall auto market leaders (all powertrains):

UK Best Sellers / Image Courtesy: SMMT


We also have more complete brand share data for the BEV market, with Tesla obviously dominating in February, though combined Hyundai Group BEVs were not very far behind:

However, since Tesla and a few other brands have erratic logistic schedules from month to month, we need to take a step back to look at the trailing quarter view, to get the big picture. Once we do this, Tesla’s domination of the UK market is more striking:


If we want to look beyond brand marketing, and focus on manufacturing groups, the picture is a bit more even, with VW Group, and Hyundai Motor Group, both putting in strong showings, though Tesla still dominates:


Renault-Nissan desperately need the upcoming CMF platform BEVs (Renault Megane, Nissan Ariya) to arrive and start selling, in order to keep up with their industry peers. This is disappointing for the pioneers of volume BEVs who broke new ground with the original Nissan Leaf back in 2010.


The UK is Tesla’s highest volume market in Europe, and now that the Model Y has finally arrived, we can expect BEV share to break new ground in the months ahead. Once Tesla’s European Gigafactory outside Berlin gets cranking, Tesla will goad the market further forwards in Europe.

Note that sales of combustion-only powertrains are on a steep downward slope, as more consumers turn their back on the technology. This withering of the legacy technology helps plugins grow market share, even faster than their actual growth in unit volumes (i.e. the production ramp up).

The speed of that BEV ramp up, and available volumes coming in to the UK market, are still unknowns for the months ahead. Presumably Gigafactory Berlin will focus in left-hand-drive units, potentially allowing Shanghai to increase their number of right-hand-drive variants for the UK and other RHD markets (mostly in the nearby Asia region).

Meanwhile Hyundai and Kia are doing very well in the UK market, delivering decent volume of the new Ioniq 5 and EV6 siblings, and will soon be joined by their luxury sibling, the Genesis GV60 (order book now open, starting from £47,005 ‘on the road’).

Genesis GV60. Image Courtesy: Genesis

If Volkswagen Group can also up their game for UK deliveries in 2022, there’s every chance that December in the UK could see 35% BEV share, and close to 45% combined plugin share. Full year plugin share should get very close to 30%, from 18.5% in 2021 and 10.7% in 2020.

What do you think? Please share your experience in the comments below.


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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, or contact him via LinkedIn.


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