Electric Car Count: March 2023

In March, electric cars accounted for 16.21% of all new car registrations in the UK, as the exponential growth in EV uptake seen in recent years begins to stabilise. While demand for electric vehicles is still high, it is likely that slower rates of growth will continue until the ZEV mandate is implemented in 2024, and supply is able to consistently match consumer demand.

Ben Nelmes, Chief Executive Officer at New AutoMotive, says, “March was a strong month for electric car sales, but the share of car sales that are fully electric is roughly the same as March last year.

“Consumer demand is strong, and the government needs to boost the supply of electric cars to the UK to enable more people to go electric.

“The government’s latest proposals for a California-style Zero Emissions Vehicle mandate are an important signal that the UK government is committed to its ambition to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2035, and will make it cheaper and easier for British drivers to go electric.”

UK market overview

The electric vehicle segment of British new car sales was solid at 16.21% in March, and while the UK can still confidently expect EVs to hit the initial 20% market share target laid out in the most recent ZEV Mandate consultation, it may be that more exponential growth doesn’t occur until the mandate is implemented in 2024. The market share of EVs last month was roughly the same market share as in March 2022, and a sign that the exponential growth in electric registrations seen over the past few years is beginning to stabilise. The electric share of the market over 2023 is still significantly higher than it was in 2019, 2020, and 2021, but is moving at a trajectory similar to that of 2022. The implementation of the ZEV mandate for 2024 will be key to reigniting growth in electric car sales.

Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Electric Vehicles, says, “Demand for EVs on salary sacrifice – where cycle-to-work meets EVs – has taken off in the UK. We have more enquiries and orders month-on-month as people wake up to the benefits of going electric. With the tax benefits and low cost charging, EVs are now cheaper to run than their gas guzzling equivalents.

“The MG 4 has taken the market by storm, so it’s no surprise to see it in pole position with our customers. Its range, size and competitive price makes it the obvious choice for families looking to switch over to green driving.

“Audi is potentially the biggest winner we’ve seen this quarter. The newly revamped Q8 is dominating the premium SUV market with real world range (over 300 miles) that is blowing competitors out of the water.

“It’s over to the government to keep the EV revolution fully charged. The recently published ZEV mandate and ongoing commitment to a great charging network will ensure manufacturers know that the UK no longer wants dirty cars. More models at higher volumes will drive more demand, lower costs and cleaner air for all.”

Regional highlights

Oxfordshire continues its regular dominance of this table, with an impressive 44% of all cars registered in the area in March being electric. Wimbledon was a distant second, at 31%, with the Bristol DVLA region coming in third, with 24%. New AutoMotive tracks regional registrations using a three-month rolling average, which masks big variations in the EV market share from month to month.

The race for EV market share

Tesla dominated the electric segment of the British new car market in March, as they usually do in a month where they make deliveries. Despite recent turbulence around the company, it still has a strong grip on the UK’s electric car market, with its market share (23.49%) almost double that of MG who came in at second place, claiming 10.92% of the market. Outside of the top two, European manufacturers dominated the rest of this table, collectively claiming 30% of the market.

The brands that are quickest to electrify

In a month where the EU committed to exempt cars that run on e-fuels from regulation that will see only zero-tailpipe emissions cars to be sold from 2035 onwards, European manufacturers dominated this table. Seven of the top 10 marques on this table are based in Europe – including household names like Porsche, Volvo, BMW, and Audi. This dominance highlights the growing importance of electric cars to the future of European car exports, and raises serious questions about the decision to provide an exemption for e-fuels. With more Chinese EV marques looking to begin exporting their vehicles over the next 12 months, competition for a share of the electric segment of markets around the world will become more intense. The EU’s e-fuels loophole risks shifting European manufacturers’ focus at a crucial time – just as competition in the rapidly growing global market for electric vehicles really heats up.

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