My Urban Car

May 2020 car sales report – bouncy!

Petrol and diesel sales crash while Electric continue to rise in May

  • The all electric Tesla Model 3 is the top selling car in the UK for the second month running!
  • May 2020 saw another crash in car sales with showrooms closed over pandemic lockdown. Overall sales were down 89% compared to 2019. The fall in April 2020 was 97.3%. Sales for diesel cars were 93% down and petrol car sales fell 90.5%
  • As per the chart diesel sales share got back ahead of EV sales this month but when you combine electric, plugin hybrid and hybrids they remain above diesel share at least until you add fake “mild hybrid” or MHEV diesels to the diesel numbers.

Link to the MyUrbancar EV sales chart

Electric cars break UK records in May

  • Only one fuel type, Pure battery electric cars (BEVs), had a rise in sales in May of +21.5% compared to a year earlier
  • Plugin hybrid sales were down 65.1% and Hybrids fell 91.2%
  • BEV market share that was 1.1% of the UK market in May 2019 has risen to 12.0%. By comparison diesel share was 17% (or 20.3% including fake or mild hybrids called MHEVs. Petrol share was 55.1% while all AFVs (electric, plugin hybrid and hybrid) sales achieved a 19.3% share driven by electric cars.
  • Drill down again at sales by brand for April and you see of 43 brands on sale in the UK 42 saw sales fall
  • Only one brand saw sales rise in May, Tesla. It’s sales were 324% of their 2019 numbers, rising to 1,039 cars from 320 a year earlier.
  • Tesla market share in the UK rose to 5.13% (from 0.17%!) and 42.8% of electric car sales in May
  • The Tesla Model 3 also again took top spot for UK car sales with 852 delivered up from 658 in April 2020.The Vauxhall Corsa which is also sold as an EV as well as combustion engines took 2nd spot.
UK car sales in May 2020
UK car sales in May 2020

What about year to date for a better picture

For the first 5 months of 2020 here are some key takeouts

  • Pure EV market share is up to 4.3% from 0.9% at the same point last year. However unlikely it’s worth noting if the same rate of growth in EV share continued then electric cars market share would be 20.9% for the same period in 2021 and 99.8% in 2022! Supply constraints mean this couldn’t quite happen that quick!
  • Only MG (+9%) and Tesla have seen sales rise in the first 5 months.
  • Tesla’s share of the UK market in the first 5 months is 1.57%, almost a 10 fold increase on 2019
  • Tesla sold 7,994 cars so far in 2020 up from 1,653. This represents 36.24% of all UK EV sales in the period
  • Obviously these are not typical times but it gratifying that EV sales are holding up better than those for dirty old tech diesel and petrol combustion engines. Lockdown has also given people a really clear view of how clean and safe air quality could be when combustion engines leave our urban streets.
  • It’s also worth noting that affordability and supply have held up EV sales growth till now. The fact that Tesla is now starting to achieve mainstream sales levels and strong growth is encouraging. When there is supply of good EVs there is strong demand, regardless of what some old legacy carmakers say. This time last year Tesla’s were only made in California, now it’s California and China. In just over a year Berlin will be added and there is speculation about a UK Gigafactory in the planning as well.
  • Legacy carmakers who can’t supply EVs can no longer rely on the fact no one else will. In the UK there are finally strong signs that cars like the Model 3 have gaining ground in the fleet sector which was one of the last holdout for dirty diesels along with premium brand SUVs.
UK Car sales Jan to May 2020
UK car sales Jan to May 2020

Why have Tesla sales in the UK gone up when all others have crashed?

  1. Why? Well for once Tesla having deliveries in transit has worked to it’s advantage. While it’s Fremont factory that supplies the UK is closed cars built earlier are still in transit and arriving on ships
  2. Tesla orders have always been made via it’s website, not via dealers. Tesla are able to do hands free delivery so dealers being closed as had little impact.
  3. Tesla is well placed for an increase in electric car sales to company car drivers who can save over £10,000 in tax on benefit in kind on a Tesla Model 3 over 3 years compared to a combustion engine 3 series BMW or C class.

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.