My Urban Car

2022 UK Electric Car Sales Report

Here’s a quick rundown of the highs and lows of the EV transition in 2022, starting with the good news from the amazing numbers from December 2022.

Fun facts from December’s EV sales stats

1 Tesla’s Model Y and 3 topped the UK sales chart and..

Not only were the Tesla Model Y and Model 3, the 2 best selling cars in the UK in December, their sales added up to 16,368 cars between them. Add in a rather amazing sales number for the Nissan Leaf and that is 18,151 purely electric sales in the UK top 10 sellers.

2 In the top 10 sellers electric cars outsold all petrol, hybrid and diesel cars combined

All the sales for petrol, hybrid and diesel models in the top 10 sellers combined came to 16.635. That also includes some models the are also available with electric powertrains. In fact, according to NewAutomotive data, in December, 797* of the Volvo XC40/C40* sales were pure electric, along with 852* of the Mini’s sales.
If correct then in the UK top 10 sellers, electric cars outsold all petrol, diesel and hybrid models by 19,800 cars to 14,986.

*these figures relate total EV sales for Mini and Volvo but to our knowledge the 2 models in the top 10 are the only electric cars they offer in the UK

3 Pure electric, hybrids and plugin hybrids took 50.1% of the UK car market

Looking at the top half of the UK sales figures chart, for December only, pure electric cars took 32.9% of UK sales, Hybrids took 10.7% and plugin hybrids took another 6.5%. That just gives them a majority of UK car sales over all petrol and diesel cars combined including so called MHEV mild hybrids (which can’t move an inch on electric power).

4 Tesla was the best selling car brand in the UK in December

According to SMMT data, Tesla sold 16,368 cars in December, which represents 12.74% of all UK car sales for the month. That means around 1 in 8 cars sold in the UK were Telsa’s.

By comparison other brands market shares included

Audi 6.96%
BMW 7.41%
Ford 5.98%
Land Rover 2.02%
Toyota 5.32%

5 Why December matters and why it doesn’t

UK car sales in December give a last chance to boost EV sales at the end of the year. While December EV sales were 32.9% of the market, for the year as a whole EV’s only took a 16.6% share. The pattern was repeated in 2021 when December share was 25.5% but annual share was only 11.6%.

Yes December helps but it does not provide any indication of sales in 2023, or the rather disappointing reality of EV sales in the UK in 2022.

EV sales for 2022 as whole

2022 EV sales compared to other years

So what happened in the UK in 2022. After the 25.5% EV share did 2022 build on that? In a word.. no.

Our UK car sales chart lays out the picture.

It compares sales of polluting diesels (inc MHEVs) in black, pure Electric cars in blue and Electric, Hybrid and Plugin Hybrid cars combined in yellow
If you mouse over the graph the figures are displayed
On the left side are annual figures until 2022 when we have first half, full year and then what happened in each month between July and December 2022. Single months are not always indicative especially as Tesla have usually delivered most of their cars in March, June, September and December.

Chart by Visualizer

What we can see is on an annual basis there is steady growth but slowing. It is still currently the opposite of an S curve for a new technology. While EV sales share is 10x it was in 2019, sales for 2022 only rose by 40% compared to 2021.

So why isn’t EV sales growth behaving more like flat screen TV’s, Mobile phones and other new tech? Pretty simple really. Usually tech starts with early adopters paying the most for early less capable tech. As sales grow competition and supply increases and prices fall rapidly.

EV tech has been improving, with most models offering better range and performance than even a year ago.. but prices didn’t fall. There are currently only 3 electric cars on sale for under £30,000. In many cases prices have risen by £8,000 in a year. Even the base Fiat 500 costs over £30,000.

At the same time the UK government decided it was a great moment to remove incentives for private buyers to switch to electric cars. They even announced that EV’s would get hit with both VED and the luxury VED supplement from 2025 as well as losing their congestion charge exemption in London.

Meanwhile, although production was increasing supply was hit by semiconductor shortages, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, strong demand for batteries and raw materials and some COVID shutdowns while demand remained strong. All in all the EV market should get back on track in 2023 with increased supply and less demand because of the squeeze in the cost of living. EV’s will have to become more affordable.

Top UK EV models in 2022

Tesla dominate the full year sales picture with around 55,000 Model 3 and Model Y’s sold in the UK in 2022. The Nissan Leaf is rather an old EV with some real problems with its charging capability and the Mini is due for replacement with a more capable model soon but both benefited from being 2 of the only 3 EV’s below £30k and they were rewarded with respectable sales.

EV sales.. brands walking the walk

There are a few brands that already only sell electric cars. Tesla and Polestar are the main ones in the UK, along with Smart which has been EV only but insignificant from a sales perspective for a while.

Who were the biggest selling EV brands in the UK in December?

Surely MG and Kia and Hyundai? um.. no.

  • Tesla 39%
  • VW 9%
  • BMW 7%
  • Renault 6%
  • Nissan 6%
  • MG 5%
  • Audi 5%

After that Skoda, Mercedes, Mini, Porsche and Volvo all outsold the 781 cars from Hyundai and 557 from Kia. Kia and Hyundai also came 10th and 11th in UK in November as well and 10th and 12th in October.

Another way to look at it is by EV sales share is for each brand. For example in December 2022

  • 88% of the cars sold by MG were fully electric.
  • Perhaps surprisingly, BMW the company that said there was no customer demand for EV’s, had 35% of its UK sales from EV’s. Diesel was 3%.
  • VW was 28% EV while Audi was a little behind at 22% EV
  • Nissan was 30% EV
  • Ford… 2% EV. The new electric Puma can’t come soon enough.
  • Toyota sold around 1% EV’s in December
  • Renault though added some va va voom at 53% pure EV.
  • and Hyundai and Kia?. 17% EV share for each.. not what most EV aficionados would imagine
  • by comparison even Mini had 20% EV sales, Mercedes managed 23%, Skoda 25% and Volvo 23%
  • 38% of Porsche sales were electric
  • the Stellantis brands pretty much vanished from the UK sales stats in December so I won’t pick on them as they clearly had some temporary issues. To put it in perspective Fiat and Citroen were each outsold by Porsche at a 3:1 ratio! Porsche outsold Peugeot by 2:1 while Vauxhall managed to outsell Porsche by about 300 cars!

2023 and the future of UK EV sales

Things are brightening up for 2023. The sheer gravitational pull of a long range MG4 hatchback is likely to force more other models back under the £30k mark. A tiny 200 mile Fiat 500 may be cute but, for more than the capable MG4 long range with 280 miles WLTP, it’s a nonsense.

Another source of downward gravitational pull will be Tesla. Tesla is able to produce electric cars at lower cost and greater volumes than other cars in their segment, When waiting lists for Model 3 and Y reached 12 months or more Tesla increased their prices sharply to manage demand. By comparison at the time of writing some cars are available from stock, some in 2-4 weeks and the longest wait time is March so 3 months. With sales in China weakened by COVID, provided the massive Tesla Shanghai plant keeps running Tesla will finally have supply to provide a practically unrestricted number of cars to the UK.

If, as is likely, Tesla reduce prices or maintain regular end of quarter discounts they will grow overall sales and EV market share in the UK this year. If Model 3’s start appearing for £42k instead of £48.5k then other brands will have to respond and the horrendous price increases of 2022 will start to unwind.

Ironically the more toxic the vocal politics of Mr Musk becomes to the Tesla brand, the more Tesla will have to discount to sell its rising output. Tesla in 2023 is expected to sell close to 2m cars worldwide, and many will be headed to the UK. Lower margins and higher volumes will make EV’s more affordable and that is a good thing.

Update! Since we published this on the 5th January, on the 13th January Tesla UK, announced big price cuts to Model 3 and Y in UK of around £7,000.. taking the starting price of the Model 3 to £42,990

Sources

New AutoMotive

Chip crisis subdues new car market but EVs now second only to petrol – SMMT

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 & www.myurbancar.com 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.

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