March ‘best ever’ month for UK electric car sales

March 'best ever' month for UK electric car sales

Electric Vehicle Model Production Line./Matthias Rietschel/REUTERS

Electric Vehicle Model Production Line./Matthias Rietschel/REUTERS

Petrol and diesel prices are reaching record highs as a result of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. In the UK, this led to record March sales of all battery-powered electric cars, up 80 percent from March last year.

It’s one of the few bright spots this year in a struggling car market hit by COVID-19 and the tight cost of living. Fully electric cars are now taking over an increasing share of the ‘green’ market from petrol-electric hybrid vehicles.

The UK government has committed to ending sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2030.


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Initially, there was a wave of hybrid petrol/electric models. The latest figures show that one in six new cars sold in March was an all-electric model, more than double the number of plug-in hybrids.

“We have sold many of the hybrids, the electric has now become our market leader,” said Hugo Woodhead, sales manager at the GWR Kia showroom in West London.

Like most major manufacturers, Kia offers a growing range of battery-powered cars with more to follow next year, but not all Woodhead customers are thrilled with the idea.

“The biggest concerns are the range, because you can’t just go to a gas station and fill up. It’s up to us to explain how to do that and what’s involved,” he added.


The customers CGTN met in the showroom were divided on what to buy. Jeff Benny and his wife were only interested in plug-in hybrids.

“No, definitely not all-electric — I don’t think the technology is good yet,” Benny said. “I think this thing about range anxiety would be too much.”

Mohal drives an old diesel car, which means he has to pay every time he enters London’s low-emission zone.

“I think eventually everyone will take the electric route, so I might as well go that route now. I’m not worried about the range. I’ve talked to a lot of people. As long as I’m traveling to work and back again, I don’t care. doesn’t really matter much,” Mohal explained.

He had just tested Kia’s latest model, the EV6 family sports coupe, so CGTN gave it a try. If there was no engine noise, it would be difficult to say that this car is not an ordinary gasoline model. It accelerates well and has a range of 500 km.

But there are concerns about whether there are enough charging points to meet the growing demand. There are approximately 30,000 charging stations in the UK, mainly concentrated in London and southern England. In the Netherlands there are 80,000. The UK government is aiming for 300,000, but only by 2030.

In 2019, electric cars were still a novelty, but in 2020 sales started to increase and last year more than 190,000 were registered, almost a market share of 12 percent.

In 2021, the number of electric cars sold represented a market share of 11.6 percent – and this year fuel prices shot up and so did electric car sales: March was a record month, accounting for 16 percent of all cars sold.

Norway has the highest penetration of battery-powered cars. In 2020, 65 percent of all new car sales there were fully electric. In March, no less than 86 percent of sales were fully electric.

In absolute numbers, Germany is the largest market with 365,000 electric cars sold last year. But there is still a long way to go, as only 1 percent of all cars on the road in Europe are electric models

James Boley is affiliated with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which tracks car sales. So does he think the March numbers point to a tipping point for battery-powered cars?

“It’s definitely an acceleration point,” he says. “March was the best month ever for electric car sales in the UK. There are big targets to be met by 2030, as we see the end of sales of new pure petrol and diesel cars and mass market adoption on achieving greater scale. That is the big challenge that remains for the industry and which all depends on the infrastructure’s ability to keep up.”

Price is another factor. Electric cars with their big expensive batteries cost significantly more than petrol and diesel models – but record energy prices are starting to change the equation.