22 Years Later: Over One Million Electric Cars Sold in the U.K.
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22 Years Later: Over One Million Electric Cars Sold in the U.K.

MG4 in orange side front view electric cars U.K.
  • Experts expect that the second million EVs will be sold in the next two years. 
  • The U.K. is offering a value-added tax incentive to shoppers who choose an EV.
  • Fleets are driving EV sales after a 40% increase in 2023. 

After more than 20 years of selling electric cars in the U.K., the island nation reached a significant milestone of selling one million battery electric vehicles. While one million sounds like a massive number of vehicles, there are still more than 35 million gas-powered vehicles on U.K. roads as of 2022. 

There’s still plenty of work to be done to spread the EV love, and the U.K. is getting it done. 


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The 2035 Zero-Emissions Goal

By 2035, automakers will no longer be able to sell gas-powered and diesel-powered vehicles. As that year approaches, automakers must increase EV production so they can sell more annually. Unfortunately, legacy automakers like Toyota, Land Rover, and Nissan have been pushing the U.K. government to delay the ban, claiming they don’t have enough time to achieve the goal. 

Fortunately, other automakers in Europe, the United States, and China are working hard to meet the goal. Automakers are tasked with increasing EV sales in 2024, as the government mandates that 22% of their new cars sold must be powered by electric motors. 


The Number of Electric Cars in the U.K. and U.S.

Volkswagen

While it took the U.K. more than 20 years to reach one million EV sales, experts predict that the next million EVs will be sold within the next two years. As of 2022, there were approximately 35.1 million licensed cars in the U.K. For comparison, the United States had over 233 million licensed drivers as of 2021, according to Statista. The U.S. sold about 1.2 million EVs in 20

In the U.S. and the U.K., the top-selling EV in 2023 was the Tesla Model Y. Other popular models in the U.K. include the VW ID.3, Tesla Model 3, and MG4. 

Per the BBC, battery electric vehicle sales in January 2023 topped 20,000 thanks to a tax incentive for drivers who use company cars. Fleets that buy more than 25 vehicles on one invoice are driving EV sales, as their demand for EVs is up 40%.

According to that same BBC article, EVs encompassed 14.7% of new vehicles sold in the U.K. this past January. In 2023, EV sales ate up 16.5% of the market share. The 2023 numbers were down a bit from 2022 when sales reached 17.8% of the market share. The U.K. government offered incentives to individual EV buyers, but the incentives stopped in 2022


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Common Concerns about EV Adoption

The concerns about ownership of electric cars in the U.K. echo those in the U.S. Stakeholders worry about the lack of charging infrastructure and the higher sticker prices of EVs compared to ICE vehicles. The U.K. government has noticed, so it is requesting to cut the value-added tax (VAT) to incentivize more drivers to choose an EV. Across the U.K., the VAT on vehicles is 20%, so dropping to 10% or even 5% as suggested on an EV could bring significant savings. 

The U.K. government is also taking charge regarding EV charging infrastructure (no pun intended). His Majesty’s Government has plans to install 300,000 public charging ports by 2030. Those public stations will be available for drivers who need on-street charging and for those who want to use their EVs for long-distance trips. Like EV drivers in the U.S., most drivers of electric cars in the U.K. charge their vehicles at home, usually at night. 


Passing the Inflection Point 

MG Motor

In the United States, the generally accepted tipping point for EV sales is 5%. The idea is that once 5% of vehicles on the road are electric, more drivers will begin purchasing them. This inflection point happens with most new technology. 

The early adopters move at a snail’s pace, and when the inflection point occurs, sales begin to boom. The U.K. has reached the inflection point, along with several other countries around the globe. The U.S. has also passed the tipping point, so EVs are no longer seen as a novelty but as a reliable form of transportation. The U.S. is behind other countries regarding EV adoption, so it will be interesting to watch the U.K. to see whether it meets its 2035 zero-emissions goal. 


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SOURCE | IMAGES: MG MOTOR

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AUTHOR: 

KRISTEN BENTLEY

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