My Urban Car

UK Car market report – September 2019

The SMMT car sales details are in for September 2019

Sales trends

Petrol cars took 65.5%% of UK car sales but the real excitement was the second month of sharply rising EV sales and a further drop in diesel sales.


Figures from the SMMT show UK diesel car market share is at the lowest in over a decade. September 2019 market share is 22.6%, well under one in four. To these we should really add 2% for diesel MHEVs so a combined diesel share of 24.6%, still a record low.

While buyers of the largest 6 cylinder SUVs still favour diesel, along with some fleet buyers overall private sales of diesel cars of 2.0L or under must be extremely small.

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 court ruling in spring 2019 made it conceivable 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 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. They plan to do this by changing the law before the end of 2019.

AFV – hybrid, plugin hybrid & electric

Total September 2019 AFV market share is 8.6%%. Hybrid, Plugin hybrid (PHEV) Electric vehicles form a small but growing share of AFV sales so we cover them below.

The UK alternatively fuelled vehicle stats now include MHEV or “mild hybrid” models. Only electrified in a marketing sense these so called hybrids are standard petrol & diesel MHEVs can’t travel an inch on electric drive & offer a tiny CO2 / Economy benefit of around 4%. MHEV sales will grow for a while as they will become the final iteration of pure fossil fuel combustion engine technology. We will not include them in our AFV figures

Electric Vehicles

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

EV sales for the single month of September 2019 are were 2.2%, a 314% increase on last yr..The 7,704 sales in September 2019 alone are equal to half the EV sales for all 12 months of 2018. Even more impressive, UK EV sales doubled even if you exclude the 3,000 Tesla Model 3 sales.

2019 has seen more segments of the car market offering an EV option and but many 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.

Key models to watch for 2019 are the :

  • Tesla model 3 now being delivered in large volumes and sales are likely to be limited mainly by the arrival times of the Tesla delivery ships from California. Delivery times are a little haphazard but 3 months or less is likely.
  • Hyundai Kona (on sale now but with a 10+month waiting list for delivery)
  • MG XS EV. Could be a surprise hit thanks to acceptable range in a roomy SUV body style at a very reasonable price.
  • Kia Niro and Soul EV siblings of the Kona also have long wait times
  • Jaguar I-Pace on sale now ( 12 week delivery for factory orders)
  • Audi e-Tron
  • Vapourware Mercedes EQC and BMW iX3 will probably not reach customers till 2020
  • the VW iD is now likely to be sold out for the entire 2020 production before the year begins
  • 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.