March saw a record number of pure-electric cars registered with more than 3,900 units, up more than 1,000 sales and 30% on last year's results. The total electric vehicle registrations figure in March - pure-EV and PHEV combined - was the second highest on record for the UK.
In what was a difficult March for the UK's automotive industry, where a new registration plate traditionally sees strong sales figures, the overall market was more than -3% down compared to last year. The first quarter finished -2.4%, with diesel sales particularly to blame for the poor performance thanks to continuing poor performance.
Total electric registrations for March 2019 are only behind March's figures last year, with more than 9,200 EVs sold in the same month in 2018. However, pure-EV registrations were ahead of the previous record of more than 3,100 units, set in March 2017.
The performance of PHEVs was not as good, down almost 23% on last year's figures, with 4,941 units registered in March 2019, compared to 2018's 6,389. The impact of removed financial support from the Plug-in Car Grant - which effectively saw funding cut for PHEVs in October 2018 - and uncertainty over forthcoming BIK rates look to have hit the PHEV market in recent months.
The overall UK car market is suffering from the same lack of published future BIK rates, plus factors such as Brexit and low confidence in diesel models adding to those uncertainties.
Combined electric vehicle market share was 1.9% in March of total registrations, while alternatively fuelled vehicles - including conventional hybrids - was 5.5%. Diesel market share is down to 26% in March, and petrol is the dominant fuel type, at 68% of UK registrations in March 2019.
In 2019 to date, more than 14,500 EVs have been registered, a little ahead of the same figure for Q1 2018. Market share for the first three months of the year is at 2.1%, and the continued buoyant pure-EV performance has seen more than 40% of electric cars sold so far in 2019 feature no engine at all. This is much higher than recent years, where PHEVs have outsold pure-EVs by about 3:1.