UK Plugin Share 16.2%, BEVs Grow 1.66× YoY, Supplies Can’t Keep Up

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The UK market saw plugin electric vehicles take 16.2% share in April, up from 13.2% YoY. Full battery electrics grew strongly YoY, while plugin hybrids fell. Overall auto volumes were down over 25% from pre-pandemic seasonal norms, at 119,167 units.

April’s combined plugin result of 16.2% comprised 10.8% full battery electrics (BEVs), and 5.4% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). Their respective shares in April last year were 6.5% and 6.8%. This continues a substantial shift in weighting towards BEV over the past 12 months.

The trailing 3 months’ plugin share stands at 21.3%, up from 13.6% YoY. April is always a seasonal low ebb for plugins, but the key is the continued year-on-year growth. BEV share grew by a relative 66% and BEV volume grew by 41%. New seasonal highs for market share will continue to be broken in the months ahead.

Plugless hybrids, especially 48 volt mild hybrids, continued to offer legacy auto makers a quick-and-dirty (and cheap) way of temporarily meeting current emissions targets, so their share continues to quickly grow. Their growth comes at the expense of old-school combustion-only powertrains, rather than of plugins. Plugless hybrids can only do so much to meet ever-tightening emissions rules. Ultimately all their energy still comes from internal combustion of oil. They will be banned in the UK from 2035 onwards.

Diesel share dropped to 5.6% from 9.9% YoY, with unit volume dropping by more than 50% to just 6,725 units.

Best Selling BEV Brands

Tesla, as normal, made very few scheduled shipments to anywhere in Europe in April, so other brands had a chance to dominate the best-selling ranks, at least for a month.

In the UK market, Hyundai led, with sibling Kia in #3 spot. BMW — with 4 BEV models already on sale and more coming — is doing well in the UK market, at #2 spot in April.

With the vagaries of international shipping schedules to an island nation, there’s only so much that a single month’s result can tell us. Stepping back to see the normalised view over the trailing quarter, Tesla is still very dominant in the UK’s BEV market.

Kia and Hyundai are currently doing the-best-of-the-rest, in 2nd and 3rd, but are a long way back from Tesla’s lead. Volkswagen takes 4th, with German luxury brands BMW and Mercedes in 5th and 6th.

Stepping back further to look at auto manufacturing groups over the trailing 3 months, Tesla still dominates, with Hyundai Motor Group and Volkswagen Group in 2nd and 3rd spots.


Fuel prices in the UK remain very high, averaging €2.11 per liter for diesel, for example. With no chance of this improving any time soon, new car buyers will increasingly be looking at plugins.

However, the problem is not with demand for plugins, and particularly BEVs, it is with their supply. Volkswagen group CEO, Herbert Diess has just revealed that its BEV waiting list in Europe (and in the US) is now full for the rest of 2022. He said that VW Group currently has a backlog of 300,000 BEV orders in western Europe. At Q1 run rates, that’s more than 9 months of orders.

Meanwhile Tesla UK is still estimating an August 2022 delivery date for new Model Y orders placed today. However, Model 3 orders won’t be fulfilled until February 2023, almost 10 months from now.

Although I haven’t got hard data, similar delays of six months to a year (or more) are undoubtedly also true for most of the other popular BEVs in the UK, whether from Korea, Germany, France, Sweden, China or elsewhere.

Whatever happens to the UK’s BEV market share in the coming months, it will be entirely down to BEV supply volumes from auto makers. Huge demand is undoubtedly there, and the sky is the limit for what market share BEVs could achieve if supply weren’t the bottleneck. And non of this is unique to the UK.

As is it, I expect we will see UK plugin share well over 40% in the final quarter of 2022, with an outside chance of touching 50%.

What are your thoughts on the UK auto market? Please jump in to the discussion below.


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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, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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