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UK Plugin EV Share Shrinks In July, BEVs Still Growing

The UK auto market saw plugin electric vehicles take 16.7% share in July, down from 17.1% year on year. BEV share grew, but not enough to outweigh PHEVs’ lower share. Overall auto volumes were down 9% YoY, to 112,162, the lowest July in over 16 years. Hyundai was the leading brand in UK BEV sales in July.

 

July’s combined plugin result of 16.7% comprised 10.9% battery electrics (BEVs) and 5.8% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). This compares to 9% and 8%, respectively, a year ago.

The YTD result for plugins now stands at 20.3% share (14.0% BEV) from 14.8% (8.2% BEV) YoY. So BEVs are still growing share well, but PHEVs are falling overall. BEV volumes have grown by around 50% YTD, against an overall auto market down 11.5% in volume.

Diesel-only volumes dropped by 21% YoY to 6,210 units, near their record low. Petrol-only dropped volume by 8% YoY.

UK’s Top BEV Brands

Tesla — in the low ebb of its quarterly shipping schedule to Europe — was almost entirely absent from the UK in July.

This gave other brands a chance to shine in the UK, with Hyundai, Volkswagen and Audi taking the top 3 spots.

Cupra continued to ramp supply of the Born into the UK, with 38% higher volume than its previous June peak, allowing the brand to climb the monthly charts from 17th to 6th.

Most other leading brands had a drop in monthly volume, but did not see significant changes in ranking compared to last month.

Let’s step back to look at the bigger picture of the 3-month trailing results:

Still buoyed up by a strong June, Tesla continues to lead the long term brand rankings in the UK, despite July’s relatively absence. A few brands had decent climbs in the May-to-July period, compared to 3 months earlier (February-to-April):

  • Audi up from 8th to 5th
  • Nissan up from 14th to 10th
  • Renault up from 16th to 13th
  • Cupra up from 25th to 15th
  • Skoda up from 21st to 17th

Most others stayed roughly stable, but a few brands fell down the rankings:

Let’s also have a brief look at moves amongst the leading BEV manufacturing groups:

Compared to 3 months ago, the biggest move is Tesla’s fall from 1st to 4th. We know that most of the drop was due to H1 production pauses in Shanghai, where the majority of Europe’s supply is still made. Tesla should recover by the end of Q3, and increase all European volumes from there, thanks to Berlin ramping.

VW Group moved from 3rd to 1st, and Hyundai Motor Group remained in 2nd. Stellantis stepped up one place to 3rd, and BMW Group remained in 5th. Outside the top 5, the only significant move was Mercedes, falling 2 spots to 8th.

Outlook

The UK auto industry association, the SMMT, had this to say about July’s results:

“Ongoing global supply chain issues, predominantly the lack of semiconductors, continued to frustrate order fulfilment, exacerbated by Covid lockdowns in key manufacturing and logistics centres in China, plus disruption from the war in Ukraine, all of which restricted production output and thus supply into the UK new car market.” (SMMT).

No mention here of the UK experiencing the highest inflation since the 1970s, caused largely by energy and food supply issues. This is causing economic uncertainly and dampening consumer confidence, as well as the noted effects on supply chains.

Plugins retain the advantage of much lower fuel costs than other powertrains, and will thus still be relatively attractive (for the diminishing number of folks who are in the market for a new vehicle). It’s hard to say what’s behind the drop in PHEV sales and share (across Europe); whether due to supply or demand.

BEVs however are still growing at a decent clip in both volume and share. There’s also still a long order backlog for the most popular BEVs, which will keep their sales moving in the months ahead, to the extent that disrupted supply chains can keep up.

What are your thoughts on the UK’s auto market in the months and years ahead? Please join in the discussion in the comments section 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 MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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