Sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids reach record levels

Sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids reach record levels

Posted by

Kevin Blackmore

January 2018

Pure electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles reached record levels in 2017, according to figures released by EV and low emission campaigner Go Ultra Low, while the decline in the sale of diesel models continued.

Unprecedented demand for alternative fuelled vehicles (AVFs) saw registrations increase by more than 34% on the previous year with an expanding range of plug-in vehicles available to motorists.

In 2018, annual electric car registrations could reach 60,000 for the first time, retaining the UK’s position as one of Europe’s largest markets for ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs).

In a landmark year, the total number of plug-in cars on UK roads passed 130,000, as public and business appetite for plug-in hybrid and 100% electric cars reached a new high. From January to December, 46,522 ULEVs were registered.

Figures from Go Ultra Low show that records tumbled throughout the year with every quarter comfortably out-performing 2016. The second half of 2017 recorded in excess of 24,000 registrations of 100% electric and plug-in hybrid cars – up more than 40% on July-December 2016.

Poppy Welch, head of Go Ultra Low, which brings together a consortium of vehicle manufacturers, government and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: “2017 was a stellar year for electric vehicle registrations with strong growth of 27%, demonstrating the massive consumer appetite for 100% electric and plug-in hybrid cars.

“There are already more than 130,000 electric vehicles on UK roads, a figure that could pass 190,000 this year as new models come to market and consumers reap the cost saving benefits of electric driving.”

Across the country, several regions stood out with London (9,274) and Eastern England (8,685) registering the most EVs, a rise of 42% and 21% respectively on 2016.

Meanwhile, the South West and Scotland grew the fastest, boosting plug-in uptake by 140% and 70% respectively against the previous year.


UK registrations of 100% electric and plug-in hybrid cars by region – 2017 vs 2016

Yearly Total 2017 Yearly Total 2016 Yearly % Change
EAST 8685 7193 20.7%
EAST MIDLANDS 826 700 18.0%
LONDON 9274 6541 41.8%
NORTH WEST 2398 1785 34.3%
NORTHERN IRELAND 576 436 32.1%
SCOTLAND 2292 1352 69.5%
SOUTH 5434 5461 -0.5%
SOUTH EAST 855 725 17.9%
SOUTH WEST 1058 440 140.5%
WALES 760 565 34.5%
WEST 1371 977 40.3%
WEST MIDLANDS 7987 6352 25.7%
YORKSHIRE 3649 2871 27.1%
Total 46522 36535 27.3%


The demand for 100% electric cars, such as the UK’s best seller – the Nissan Leaf – continued to grow with the sector’s registrations increasing by around a third, to top 13,000.

Meanwhile, plug-in hybrid cars like the popular BMW 330e, VW Golf GTE, and Hyundai Ioniq, delivered the highest volume of registrations with more than 33,000 arriving on UK roads, an increase of a quarter versus 2016.

Greater choice of models and growing consumer appetite for ultra low emission cars means that 2018 could be set to be another record breaking year.

If similar growth continues this year, 60,000 vehicles could be registered during 2018 taking the total number of plug-in cars on our roads to more than 190,000.

Meanwhile, at its summit, ‘Preparing for your electric vehicle future’, earlier this month, Go Ultra Low revealed that as many as 435,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could each save up to £1,440 a year with their first electric vehicle (EV), which could deliver £625 million in cumulative savings for UK businesses.

A survey of UK SMEs, commissioned by Go Ultra Low, found that many businesses are not aware of the potential savings of electric motoring.

When assessing suitable vehicle options, only 35% of businesses said they consider whole-life costs of running a vehicle, with the major considerations remaining at the more basic level of vehicle contract hire rates (32%) and vehicle list price (12%).

Despite this, more than two thirds (67%) said they would consider 100% electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles with lower whole-life costs than petrol and diesel equivalents.

Speaking at the Summit, Poppy Welch, said: “Cost savings are a top priority for companies of all sizes. So, fleet operators from both SMEs and large companies that look beyond a vehicle’s initial purchase price or monthly rental, stand to save their companies thousands of pounds every year.

“Electric vehicles can return significant operational savings – just one electric car or van could save SMEs up to £1,440 annually. With an ever-increasing number of plug-in models now available, it’s even easier for businesses to identify an ultra low emission vehicle that suits their needs.”

The Go Ultra Low summit was held in London with more than 70 fleet decision makers in attendance, including representatives from some of the 140 businesses accredited as Go Ultra Companies.

Attendees heard from number of leading industry figures, including a keynote speech by the Rt Hon Claire Perry MP, Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

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