New Registrations of All-Electric Cars up a Whopping 39%

SMMT has just released new car registration data for October, and the results speak for themselves: UK drivers are ditching diesel (down 29.9% October 2016 to October 2017) and embracing electric (up 36.9% October 2016 to October 2017). Overall, new car registrations are in decline, down 12.2% from October 2016 to October 2017 and down 4.6% YTD 2016 to YTD 2017. We've looked through the data to understand the changing trends amongst UK drivers.

Diesel in Decline, Electric on the Rise

The confusing state of affairs for diesel cars—potential for an outright ban, tax rises, parking surcharges and toxicity charges for driving in some cities—is certainly having an impact on new diesel sales. This once-loved category is in steady decline, with 14.9% fewer cars registered new by October this year, compared to the same time period in 2016.

In contrast, the electric car category is witnessing the largest percentage increase in new car registrations, up 34.8% YTD to October 2017 vs. 2016.

Car TypeYTD to October 2016YTD to October 2017% Change
Diesel1,112,655946,537-14.9%
Petrol1,142,0441,175,6972.9%
Electric (plug-in and hybrid)75,964102,36934.8%
Total2,330,6632,224,603-4.6%

More Drivers Choose Electric Cars

While the general new-car registration trend is in clear decline, there is one segment of the market seeing an uptick in new registrations: electric cars. Although electric cars (pure or hybrid) are still a small part of the overall auto market, there's been a 22.8% increase in new registrations for cars which are Plug-In Car Grant eligible for the time period January to October in 2017, compared to the same time period in 2016.

Excluding diesel-electric hybrids from the equation (as these are less popular now, due to the diesel stigma), other categories of electric cars have popped even more: pure electric new registrations have risen 38.8% YTD and petrol-electric hybrids are up 45.4%. Comparing the most recent month of October to October of last year, the trend appears even stronger: new registrations of pure electric cars are up 70.6%.

chart showing increase in new car registrations for electric cars
Electric Cars: Increase in New Car Registrations

Pure Electric Cars—What's the Hype?

While more and more Brits are buying new, pure electric cars, they are still not mainstream. Many drivers are still wary of the range of electric cars and worry about running out of charge. With the potential for the average driver to save over £6,000 in running costs over five years with an electric car vs. a petrol car, as well as environmental concerns, we expect the electric car market to continue its rise in popularity.

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