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UK BEV Volume Up YoY Despite Tesla Mid-Quarter Restocking

The UK auto market saw plugin electric vehicles take 21.5% share in October, with growing year on year volumes. Despite volume gain, YoY plugin share saw a slight dip (from 23.1%), against greater YoY gains in overall auto volume, up 26% to 134,344 units (from a record low baseline). October market volume was still at the lowest seasonal level since 2010. BMW’s full electrics led the category in October, with Tesla in shipping mode.

October’s combined plugin share of 21.5% comprised 14.8% full electrics (BEVs), and 6.6% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). These compare to shares of 15.2%, and 7.9% a year ago.

In volume terms, BEVs grew 23.4% YoY, not quite enough to keep up with the recovery of the broader market. PHEVs grew volume by a modest 6%.

The biggest volume growth was in the plugless HEV and mild-hybrid segments, with HEVs up in volume by almost 82% YoY (to 15,712 units). Mild-hybrid petrols gained 60% volume YoY to 20,993 units. Their combined share grew from 23.5% to 31.4% YoY.

Industry body the SMMT states that these hybrid gains are mainly because “supply was prioritised for a raft of popular new models”. In other words, the new 2023 model year vehicles that manufacturers habitually start to trot out in October are increasingly adopting the low-hanging-fruit of efficiency gains that comes with entry-level-electrification (i.e. HEVs and mild hybrids).

Whilst this is an emissions improvement over status quo combustion-only powertrains, it is only a cheap quick-fix extension of legacy I.C.E. intellectual property and production capacity, on the way to full electrification.

As soon as battery production capacity ramps, all these plugless hybrids will go the way of the Dodo. Until then, plugless hybrids will continue to replace sales of the older combustion-only powertrains. The latter’s combined share decreased YoY from 48.4% to 47.2%.

UK BEV Brand Rankings

We have a decent measure of which auto brands grabbed the largest share of the UK’s BEV sales in October, with BMW leading the pack. Tesla (still the UK’s longer term BEV leader) was in shipping mode in October, giving BMW, Volkswagen, and MG their turn in the limelight.

BMW has actually had record performances for both of the last two months, but September’s was outshone by Tesla’s out-sized performance. Now that Tesla is re-stocking, BWM stands out.

Other notable trends were Polestar and Volvo’s return to volume shipping, both seeing almost 3x their recent (lower-than-normal) average monthly volume. Vauxhall (Opel) has similarly stepped up UK volume recently.

Some new faces showed themselves in October — Great Wall, and Ora. Both were only at display-unit volumes, and we will track these newcomers’ progress over the coming months.

Let’s smooth-out the month-by-month rollercoaster by looking at the trailing 3-month ranks:

Here Tesla is still dominant, having exactly the same UK BEV market share as it did a year ago, despite the Model Y now largely having taken over from the Model 3.

Compared to the May-to-July period, where Tesla’s lead was thinner (“just” 11.4% BEV share), it is now back to its more typical dominance.

Here are the main climbers compared to 3 months ago:

  • BMW up from 5th to 2nd
  • MG up from 6th to 4th
  • Mercedes up from 9th to 5th
  • Nissan up from 11th to 7th
  • Polestar up from 16th to 12th
  • Mini up from 18th to 13th
  • Volvo up from 23rd to 16th

These brands dropped rank over the period:

  • Kia fell from 2nd to 9th
  • Hyundai fell from 3rd to 6th
  • Vauxhall (Opel) fell from 8th to 11th
  • Fiat fell from 12th to 21st
  • Renault fell from 13th to 17th
  • Jaguar fell from 14th to 18th

Finally, let’s turn to the manufacturing group performance over the past 3 months:

Tesla is back on top, just displacing Volkswagen Group. This comes after Tesla had fallen behind in the May-to-July period (4th), due to production pauses in Shanghai.

BMW Group did well to climb from 5th to 3rd, displacing both Stellantis and Hyundai Motor Group. The latter in fact fell from 3rd to 5th, swapping rank with Stellantis as they both slid down.

Outside the top 5, Renault-Nissan (some way back with 7.0%) stayed put in 6th. Close behind, Mercedes was in 7th (with 6.7%), swapping places with SAIC (6.5%).  Geely was still in 9th, but its share of the BEV market more than doubled from 2.7% to 5.6%.


According to the Bank of England, the UK is now facing the longest recession “since records began”  roughly 100 years ago. They anticipate 8 consecutive quarters of economic decline.

Against this background, it’s hard to see why the UK auto industry association, the SMMT, now predicts that “Overall market recovery is anticipated to continue through 2023, with an outlook of 1.808 million units [up 15.5% YoY] and plug-ins accounting for 26.7% of registrations next year.”

I agree that plugin share will continue to grow against the background of volatile road fuel prices and the running cost savings that plugins afford. But I can’t see where the 15.5% market growth will come from in an otherwise shrinking economy!

If you have insights into how the UK’s auto market might fare over the next few years, please jump into the comments section below to share your thoughts.


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