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UK’s electric car sales mix falls behind Ireland’s

Be it due to a lack of supply, infrastructure or demand, the fact is, the UK’s pure electric, battery electric vehicle (BEV) demand is just a shadow of other European nations. UK BEV registrations for these plug-in vehicles during the opening 7-months of the year stood at just 8,322 registrations according to SMMT data. This made it only the 5th largest European market in terms of volume behind Norway, Germany, France and The Netherlands respectively but in proportional terms of BEV electric car sales penetration of total sales, the UK was only the 10th largest market with a BEV penetration of just 0.6 per cent behind nations such as Portugal, Belgium and even Ireland according to my own research. According to AID Data the average BEV sales mix for Western Europe reached 1.1 per cent during the same period up from 0.8 per cent last year.

electric car sales Europe top 5 markets
12-month rolling electric BEV new car registrations top 5 European markets

It’s not due to a lack of attractive benefits in the UK, with the government offering generous subsidies similar to other leading European nations. Among the benefits on offer, so called Category 1 cars, vehicles that have CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and can travel at least 112km (70 miles) without any CO2 emissions benefit from a grant that will pay for 35% of the purchase price for these vehicles, up to a maximum of £4,500. These vehicles include models such as the top selling Nissan Leaf recording close on half of UK BEV new car registrations during the opening 7-months of the year according to AID data, but also more expensive models such as all Tesla models as well as the recent addition of Jaguar’s all electric I-Pace. In other markets such as Germany there is a cap to exclude subsiding luxury vehicles with taxpayers’ money.

The UK is likely to remain out of the top four West European BEV electric car registrations volume ranking this year, despite the introduction of Jaguar’s I-Pace with UK customer deliveries commencing earlier this month according to a Jaguar spokesperson. The UK is Jaguar’s second largest single market worldwide behind China and is expected to give UK electric car demand a significant boost in this year’s second half. Regardless of this the Netherlands is expected to continue to see BEV registrations outpace those of the UK’s thanks to a dramatic end of this year as tax changes for electric vehicles over €50,000 see their BIK tax change for the value of the vehicle over €50,000 rise from 4% to 22% next year and will consequently see a powerful pull forward of Tesla and Jaguar I-Pace deliveries up until the closing days of this year.


According to my own forecast, West European BEV electric car registrations are likely to surpass 170,000 units this year up from 136,000 last year according to AID data. The running 12-month total up to July currently stands at 162,000 registrations although German deliveries are expected to flatten out as the rest of the year progresses.

BEV electric car registrations are likely to pause for breath next year before accelerating dramatically in 2020 as manufacturers make use of super credits for these vehicles and make more models available in a last ditch attempt to bring their average CO2 emissions in line with EU guidelines which stand on average at 95g/km dependent on the mass weight (kg) of the manufacturers vehicle fleet. It is still unclear if the UK will still be part of this calculation as this is after the official planned European Union departure date.


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