October saw plugin EVs take 24.9% of the UK auto market, up from 21.5% year on year. Plugin hybrids had their strongest share in two years. Overall auto volume was 153,529 units, up 14.3% YoY, and in line with pre-2020 seasonal averages. BMW was October’s leading BEV brand.
October’s combined plugin market share of 24.9% comprised 15.6% full battery electrics (BEVs), and 9.3% plugin hybrids (PHEVs). These compare to August 2022 figures of 21.5% combined, with 14.8% BEV, and 6.6% PHEV. The PHEV category has evidently seen a recovery, not due to generous incentives, but due to the new generation of improved PHEVs which offer 50+ miles of electric range. BEVs saw rather marginal YoY growth in share in October.
In volume terms, however, BEVs grew by 20.1% YoY, to 23,943 units. PHEVs grew by 60.5%, to 14,285 units. Looking at 2023 as a whole, BEVs have grown 34.2% YTD, to 262,484 units (and taken 16.3% share YTD). PHEVs have grown by 36.7% to 113,278 units (7.1% share YTD). Even for BEVs, that rate of growth results in almost doubling volume every two years. Not too bad, when you step back.
All plugless vehicle categories lost share YoY. The diesel-only segment saw share fall to 3.4%, and just 5,261 units.
Best Selling BEV Brands
With Tesla shipments on relative hiatus in October, BMW managed to take the top spot for BEV brands. The BMW iX1 and i4 are its most popular models in the UK. Tesla came in second, with the Model Y and Model 3, and Audi took third, mainly thanks to the Q4 e-tron.
Like Tesla, MG Motor had a quiet logistics month in October, and came in fourth, down from its usual second place. Volkswagen, Kia, Polestar, Vauxhall, and Peugeot, also had relatively quiet months.
Volvo conversely had a stronger month than usual, with 2.2x its recent average volume, gaining 7th spot. Honda — ranking 20th — had a relatively strong month also, from an average of just 27 monthly units over the past two years, up to 128 units in October. This seems to be due to first deliveries of the new e:Ny1 model, which started appearing on car-buying websites in the middle of October.
Let’s look at the 3-month picture:
Here, Tesla’s strong lead is clear, more than 1.5x the runner up, MG Motor. Premium German brands BMW, Mercedes, and Audi, are tightly competing for 3rd to 5th places.
It’s a poor reflection on some historically mass-market brands that a niche brand like Porsche manages to be in amongst (or ahead of) the likes of Renault, Mini, Peugeot, Ford, and Citroen. Not to mention Toyota, which isn’t even in the top 20!
January 1st will see tougher minimum targets for ZEV sales in the UK. This may lead to some unprepared manufacturers partially holding back pending BEV deliveries for the rest of this year, in order to boost their 2024 scores. If I identify these in the data, I will call them out.
Despite the long-overdue recovery of the auto market to pre-2020 volumes, the general UK economy remains weak. GDP annual growth has hovered at 0.7% to 0.5% over each of the past 3 quarters. Inflation remains high, still at 6.7% as of latest September data, though improved from the 11% peak of a year ago.
Interest rates have held at 5.25% for the past three months, the highest rate since 2008-2009. Manufacturing PMI continued to improve slightly, to 44.8 points in October, from 44.3 points in September.
As I mentioned last month, these economic conditions mean that private consumers are more reluctant to commit to an expensive BEV purchase, which is why fleet sales (and subsequent leasing to companies and individuals) have taken over from private sales.
What are your thoughts on the UK’s transition to EVs? Please join in the discussion below.
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