Battery and plug-in hybrid electric cars accounted for more than 10% of registrations last year – up from around 3% in 2019.
Overall, the new car market fell by almost a third (29.4%) in 2020, with annual registrations dropping to 1,631,064 units – their lowest level since 1992, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). According to the SMMT, the motor industry’s turnover fell by £20.4 billion, this as a result of the pandemic, Brexit and the announcement of the demise of petrol and diesel cars from 2030.
It was, however, a bumper year for battery and plug-in hybrid electric cars.
Demand for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) grew by 185.9% to 108,205 units, while registrations of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) rose 91.2% to 66,877. RAC analysis shows that twice as many BEVs were sold last year compared to the year before, and a total of more than 200,000 have been registered since 2010. December alone saw more zero-emission vehicles registered than ever in a single month (21,914, a fraction higher than September’s figure of 21,903).
Even though the sales are starting from a lower base, the growth in electric car sales is impressive, the RAC said, with 6.6% of all new vehicles registered in 2020 being zero-emission, up from just 1.6% in 2019 and 0.7% in 2018.
This means that getting on for a fifth of all cars registered last year (17.5%) were zero-emissions capable – up from just 7.4% in 2019.