The Tesa Model 3 became the best-selling car in the entire UK auto market in June, with new figures revealing that one in ten cars registered in the UK last month was all-electric.
As the first half of 2021 reached its end, Tesla delivered almost 5,500 Model 3 electric sedans to UK drivers, triple the number registered in May and almost 1,000 more than Volkswagen Golfs and Ford Pumas.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)’s latest figures show the increased interest in low and zero-emissions vehicles, thanks to progressive EV policies and incentives such as “Clean Air Zones” and a plug-in car grant of up to £2,500 (about $A4,600).
As The Driven reported in June, Birmingham became the second UK city to introduce a Clean Air Zone which applies a daily fee to vehicles that drive within the zone if they do not meet regulated emissions standards.
Notably, the latest auto sales figures out of the UK show more people are buying all-electric cars than non-pluggable hybrids or plug-in hybrids.
Just shy of 20,000 battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) were sold in June and 73,893 for the first half of 2021. The year-to-date figures show that this was 1,346 more than hybrids, and 15,686 more than plug-in hybrids.
Of the 20,000 BEVs sold in June, one in four was a Tesla Model 3.
While the figures still show that EV sales make up a fraction of the number of petrol and “mild-hybrid” petrol cars (that turn off at the lights automatically), the market share for BEVs has jumped from 6.1% in 2020 to 10.7% in 2021, amid a global chip shortage that is limiting sales across the sector and as diesel vehicles sales fell 34.7%.
However, there is criticism by market analysts that sales of hybrids are still on the rise having jumped from 6% market share in June 2020 to 8% market share in June 2021.
Ben Nelmes, Head of Policy and Research at electric vehicle sales data firm New AutoMotive, said in a statement on the firm’s website that, “Electric car sales saw strong growth in June, with one in ten new cars registered in the UK now fully electric, with zero emissions at the tailpipe.
But, he said, “While petrol remains the most popular fuel type, the growth of registrations of new hybrid vehicles is a concern. Hybrids are not zero-emissions cars, and the UK needs to see faster growth in zero emissions, fully electric cars to meet its net-zero target.”
He urges the UK government to do more to encourage electric vehicle adoption. “Ministers should consider introducing a California-style scheme to encourage more investment in EV manufacturing and production. This would benefit consumers, create jobs and reduce emissions.”
Chief executive of the SMMT Mike Hawes is more optimistic. “The semiconductor shortages arising from Covid-constrained output globally are affecting vehicle production, disrupting supply on certain models and restricting the automotive recovery,” he said.
“However, rebuilding for the next decade is now well underway with investment in local battery production beginning and a raft of new electrified models in showrooms.”
The UK government has brought forward a ban on the sale of diesel and petrol-fuelled vehicles several times now, and a target for 100% EV sales by 2030 is currently in place – far more ambitious than the 50% target suggested by Labor at the last Australian federal election which was subjected to a grievous campaign from the incumbent Coalition government that such a ban was tantamount to an attack on tradespeople.
But as noted by Keton Joshi, a 2020 study found that such a ban would help kickstart a burgeoning electric vehicle industry in the UK, creating 32,000 jobs over the next 10 years.
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.