My Urban Car

UK Car market report – March 2019

The SMMT car sales details are in for March 2019

EV tipping point chart

We are not expecting rising alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV) or pure Electric Vehicle EV sales to overtake falling diesel cars until 2021 to 2022 but here is an update on the trends here.

Sales trends


Figures from the SMMT show UK diesel car sales fell sharply to 26.3% in March 2019 from 29.6% in February. For 4 months in a row UK diesel market share has been under 30%

The sharp fall may be related to a 44% of car sales to businesses. It appears under 20% of private buyers are choosing diesel but over 40% of fleet & business buyers appear to be silly enough to keep buying diesel cars.

From September 2019 all diesels have to pass a real world emissions test called RDE. This was going to cut the number of diesels still legal to sell anyway but a recent court ruling may mean these diesels have to pass the 2015 Euro 6 limit of a maximum of 80mg/km on the road.

Dieselmakers had previously persuaded the EU to help dirty diesels cars pass the test by allowing them to call anything under 163mg/km legal. The court ruled that the EU commission acted illegally in raising the limit above 80mg for the real world test. If upheld fewer diesels will be on sale from September 2019 and cleaning up survivors will make them more expensive to build and run. The EU commission and German government are committed to ensuring diesels won’t have to achieve the 2015 Euro 6 limits when on the road and in cities across Europe.

AFV – hybrid, plugin hybrid & electric

Total March 2019 AFV market share is 5.5% up from 5% in Mar 2018. Hybrid, Plugin hybrid (PHEV) sales have been hit by the withdrawl of many end of life models from Germany when new WLTP testing became mandatory in September 2018. New replacement models for Golf, Passat and 3 series will return later in 2019. Electric vehicles form a small but growing share of AFV sales so we cover them below.

Electric Vehicles

Electric cars ended 2018 with just under 0.7% share of the UK car market share with sales of 15,474 cars up 13.8% on 2017.

EV sales for the month of March 2019 are at 0.9%, flatlining at just under 1% of sales.

2019 will see more segments of the car market offering an EV option and but European & Korean EVs are effectively brochureware only. They are on sale but not available to actually get delivered. Long range EVs have waiting lists of 12 months or more if they can be ordered at all and it looks increasingly likely the situation will remain the same through 2019 and 2020 before improving in 2021.

The Tesla model 3 is the only car that could break the impasse. It is advanced, the right size for UK roads and will soon be able to add 200 miles of range in a 12 minute charge. Despite only high end models costing over £45,000 being offered at first, the performance and green credentials along with large scale deliveries could increase UK EV sales significantly when RHD deliveries begin between June and September.

Key models to watch for 2019 are the :

  • Tesla model 3 (arriving in Europe in Q1 and UK in Q3)
  • Hyundai Kona (on sale now but with a 10+month waiting list for delivery)
  • Kia Niro and Soul EV siblings of the Kona also likely to have long wait times when they arrive in April and Summer respectively
  • Jaguar I-Pace on sale now ( 12 week delivery for factory orders)
  • Audi e-Tron due in Europe in spring
  • Vapourware Mercedes EQC and BMW will probably not reach customers till 2020
  • the VW iD is now likely to be sold out for the entire 2020 production before it is officially launched in Sept 2019
  • There are waiting lists and limited production for all these EVs

David Nicholson

David Nicholson Is the founder of Rivergecko Ltd & MyUrbanCar which provide consultancy and advice for drivers and fleets to speed the transition from dirty fossil fuel transport to clean vehicles powered by renewable energy on land water and air.

The @MyUrbanCar twitter feed is a source of news & reviews of electric & plugin cars and vans in the UK.
The @rivergecko twitter feed & websites bring news and opinion on cleantech transport including cars, vans, buses, trucks, shipping, rail & aviation as well as autonomous vehicles & renewable energy, air pollution & motor industry news.

David Nicholson has worked as an underwriter at Lloyd's of London since the 1980's. His interest in technology goes back many years including interactive mapping, apps, green tech, boats, solar and cars.