The UK enjoyed a record year for electric vehicle sales, with more than 60,000 plug-in models sold during 2018. A total of 60,155 EVs were registered between January and December 2018 according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The December - and end of year - figures revealed there were almost 5,500 EVs registered in the last month of 2018. This represents the second largest EV market share seen in the UK at 3.8% - not far off August 2018's record of 4.2%.
Almost 4,000 PHEVs were registered in December, a total that exceeds the number of conventional hybrids sold. That compares to a little over 1,500 pure-EVs registered during the same time frame.
The continued strength of the PHEV market indicates that the reduction of the Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) - effectively focusing resources solely towards pure-electric models from mid-October - has not been a mistake, and the company car benefits in particular are keeping PHEV sales strong. With a PHEV market share of 2.8% alone, it exceeds 2017's total plug-in registrations share.
The pure-EV/PHEV split remains heavily weighted towards plug-in hybrids, with almost three in every four EVs sold a PHEV - both in December and for 2018 as a whole. The total 2018 EV registrations figure is an increase of 28% on 2017’s statistics, itself up an almost identical amount on 2016’s sales. For the past three years, the UK has seen the EV market increase around 30% over the previous 12 months.
Average monthly registrations for 2018 ended on more than 5,000 units, a significant increase over 2017's average of a little under 4,000 sales per month. Of the year’s plug-in sales, almost 15,500 units were pure-EVs, with the remaining almost 45,000 units PHEVs.
The total cumulative figure to the end of 2018 shows that there are more than 193,000 electric cars on UK roads, excluding any vans, quadricycles etc.
To put EV’s successes into perspective, the total UK car market fell 6.8% in 2018 compared to 2017, reflecting a year of continued declining confidence in diesel, and a more uncertain market as a whole with the approaching Brexit deadline.
This saw 2018’s diesel sales down almost 30% over 2017, a deficit unable to be made up by petrol's 9% growth or EV's 27.6% growth - itself part of alternatively fuelled vehicles' growth of 21%, which includes conventional hybrids. December's figures were 5.5% down on last year, with diesel 26% down, though petrol up 7% and AFVs up 6%.