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  • Nov 8, 2022

  • 6 min read


The number of EVs in the UK and their future

Waste-fueled cars, hands-free gadgets and mobile payment technology - three predictions in ‘Back to The Future’ circa 1985.

As we tap away with our contactless payments, use hands-free gaming consoles and buy the latest wearable tech, our lives have dramatically evolved over the last three decades.

And while waste-fueled cars aren't completely accurate, there’s been a massive shift in moving away from petrol and diesel.

Further championed by the fight against climate change and the climb towards Net Zero, electric cars are quickly growing in popularity.

Known for being environmentally friendly and significantly cheaper to run than their petrol or diesel counterparts, it’s no wonder electric vehicles are revving up the industry.

Octopus Electric Vehicles offer every EV available in the UK, browse the full list of EVs here.

Let’s look at what’s to come, how many electric cars are in the UK, current electric car sales in the UK, and which cars are beating the competition.

How many electric cars are there in the UK?

In 2022, nearly 250,000 EVs were registered in the UK - representing a staggering quarter of all EV registrations in the UK and contributing towards the one million electric car drivers and fleets that are now on our roads.

The current UK market includes three types of electric cars:

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) - These vehicles are powered only by an electric motor and battery. They are environmentally friendly as there’s no exhaust (so they don’t give off nasty fumes that pollute our air). They’re charged from an external electric power source.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) - These combine a petrol or diesel engine with a battery that can be charged. They can be used with either power source but release zero emissions when in electric mode.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) - These are similar to PHEVs, but the electric battery cannot be plugged in or charged. Instead, it’s charged by braking or cruising.

The pure electric cars are the current favourite, with plug-in hybrids being a close second.

What were the best selling EVs in 2021

  1. Tesla Model 3
  2. Kia e-Niro (The new KIA Niro EV found here)
  3. Volkswagen ID.3
  4. Nissan Leaf
  5. Audi e-tron
  6. Hyundai Kona Electric
  7. MINI Electric
  8. Renault ZOE
  9. Vauxhall Corsa-e
  10. MG ZS EV

Electric car sales in the UK saw its biggest increase in 2021, registering over 190,000 new EVs. That’s pretty impressive when you consider that only 160,000 EVs had been registered in the years 2016 - 2020. Plus, all of this growth happened with the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic in full force.

Although it only launched in the spring of 2019, the Tesla Model 3 secured the top spot, with 35,000 sold and on the road. Coming in second was the Kia e-Niro, with more than 12,000 sales. In third place was the Volkswagen ID.3, with over 11,000 cars sold.

How has the electric car market changed over time?

While the first electric car was actually invented in 1828 (!), it disappeared for a while shortly after, as fuel-powered cars became widely available and affordable. Fast forward to 2010, and the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV started to make waves in the UK.

A lot of work has taken place over the last decade, with a focus on tougher emissions regulations and improvements in battery tech affordability, bringing an influx of competitors and choices for customers.

From the fast to the practical, the electric vehicle market now caters to all needs; family-friendly, city cars and high-flying performance cars.

Although petrol and diesel cars were once viewed as the cheaper and more convenient options, the lower running, servicing, and maintenance costs of EVs are changing this.

A petrol or diesel car will cost on average £19 - £20 to travel 100 miles, whereas an electric car can cover that same distance for just £3 using a super cheap EV tariff like Intelligent Octopus Go. That staggering saving is just one of the benefits - not forgetting the zero tailpipe emissions, no congestion charge in major cities, and no vehicle excise duty (road tax) until 2025.

Some towns and cities also offer free parking for electric vehicles - another win for EV drivers.

The public infrastructure continues to adjust to the increasing sales, with over 30,000 public electric vehicle chargers now throughout the UK. A big change from 2015, when just 2,000 charging devices were available for the whole of the country!

The government has big plans for electric vehicle infrastructure, with exciting updates to come over the next few years.

Are electric vehicle sales expected to pick up?

Once upon a time, the electric car market was a thing of dreams. Petrol and diesel cars were the only options.

But in 2022, people are opting for greener choices in all aspects of life - with electric vehicles being the solution to decarbonise transport in the car space. One in four UK households are expected to buy an electric car in the next five years, meaning more than 6.5 million households plan to buy an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid.

There’s now more momentum than ever to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle as the UK government is committing to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. This milestone moment will be a game changer in the electric car market. And it’s not just the UK, the rest of Europe is following suit, with an estimated 33-40 million electric cars on European roads by 2030.

With the lower running costs, no congestion charges to pay, and no polluting the planet with greenhouse gases, it’s easy to see why electric cars are becoming the go-to option.

Electric vehicles are here, and they’re here to stay. To work out which electric vehicle is right for you and how to become part of the electric vehicle revolution, here’s everything you need to know to get going electric.