What electric cars are people buying in the UK?

With new figures showing diesel car sales plummeting below that of ‘electric’ vehicles, we take a look at the best-selling battery electric cars, according to new registrations in the UK.

We will also take a look at the background to the surge in electric vehicles in the UK market – helping you decide what type of vehicle you buy when it comes to replace your current vehicle – should it be conventionally powered, or electric?

Many more people are turning to electric cars, but what are the most popular makes and models?Many more people are turning to electric cars, but what are the most popular makes and models? (Credit: Pxhere)

Are UK car sales increasing in 2022?

Looking at vehicles registered for the first time from April to June 2022, compared with the same period the year before, 532,000 were registered, which is a drop of 19% on the previous year.

Are more plug-in vehicles (PIVs) being sold?

Comparing Q2 2022 with Q2 2021, the number of PIVs sold was 79,000 – a figure that records a 1% increase on the previous year.  

How many battery electric vehicles were sold April to June 2022?

Figures show that in Q2 2022, 51,000 electric cars were registered for the first time. This figure is significant because it marks the first time that such cars have outsold diesel-powered counterparts.

Are people still buying diesel cars?

During Q2 just 35,000 diesel cars were registered for the first time – a figure that equates to a drop of 45% according to official government statistics.

This may be linked to the crisis in Ukraine and the increased price of diesel fuels due to Russian-produced diesel being excluded from the market, along with the long-term shift away from conventionally powered vehicles.

Are CO2 emissions from cars going down thanks to electric cars?

It would seem that the increase ownership of electric vehicles and other external factors – such as the war in Ukraine – is helping to cut emissions in the UK. For the first, the UK saw a 6% decrease in vehicle emissions during Q2 2022.

What type of cars were registered April – June 2022

The following is a breakdown of how car sales for Q2 2022 were made up by how they’re powered. Petrol cars are still the biggest sellers, but diesel cars have taken a big hit in the market, with a decline driven by government policies, the conflict in Ukraine and buyers choosing less polluting vehicles. Anyone in the market for a second-hand vehicle could see bargains in this area.

  • 206,000 petrol cars (53%)
  • 35,000 diesel cars (9%)
  • 72,000 petrol hybrid electric (HEV) cars (18%)
  • 6,000 diesel hybrid electric (HEV) cars (2%)
  • 21,000 petrol plug-in electric (PHEV) cars (5%)
  • 600 diesel plug-in electric (PHEV) cars (0.2%)
  • 51,000 battery electric (BEV) cars (13%)
  • 1,000 using other fuel types (0.2%)

What type of ‘electric’ car are people buying?

With a wide array of types of ‘electric’ cars for sale, the new figures have revealed the type of vehicle with a fully or part-electric powertrain that are being purchased in Q2 2022 compared with the same period last year.

  • petrol decreased by 25%
  • diesel decreased by 45%
  • HEV increased by 3%
  • PHEV decreased by 32%
  • BEV increased by 21%

What type of electric car should I buy?

Looking at the trend over the past five years, when it comes to the type of electric car purchased, there has been an increase in all kinds cars with a fully or part-electric powertrain. However, fully electric cars have seen by far the greatest increase in popularity among buyers with an increase of 1,525%, compared with the next highest increase – hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) – of 422%.

Trends over five years, compared to 2017 Quarter 2 (April to June), new car registrations with the fuel type of:

  • petrol decreased by 32%
  • diesel decreased by 86%
  • HEV increased by 422% (around 5 times higher)
  • PHEV increased by 214% (around 3 times higher)
  • BEV increased by 1,525% (around 16 times higher)

What are the most popular models of electric car that people are buying?

Are you looking to buy an electric car? These are the most popular alternatively powered cars bought and registered by motorists in Q2 2022 as the cost-of-living crisis and environmental pressures hit.

  1. Tesla Model Y
  2. Kia Niro
  3. Hyundai Ioniq
  4. Audi e-tron
  5. Volkswagen ID3
  6. Vauxhall Corsa
  7. Fiat 500
  8. MG ZS
  9. BMW 3 Series
  10. Peugeot 208
  11. Ford Kuga
  12. Citroen C4
  13. Mini Cooper
  14. Tesla Model 3
  15. Vauxhall Vivaro (commercial)
  16. Jaguar i-Pace
  17. MG 5
  18. Nissan Leaf
  19. Polestar 2
  20. Volvo XC40
  21. Hyundai Kona
  22. BMW i4
  23. Vauxhall Mokka
  24. BMW iX
  25. Porsche Taycan

Do I need to take a special driving test for an electric car?

You will not need to take a special test, but the if you are planning to purchase an electric car when you obtain your licence, there are certain considerations about the type of test to take. Find out about passing your driving test for an electric car here.

Source for statistics: Department for Transport national statistics

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Author: Pete Barden

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Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (thesun.co.uk), New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? (Whatcar.com) Stuff Magazine (Stuff.tv), Fastcar Magazine (Fastcar.co.uk), Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

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