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Electric vehicle sales in the UK soared by 186 per cent in 2020

  • UHY says 108,205 EVs were shifted here last year versus 37,850 in 2019
  • Growth is six times higher than global rate
  • But more government incentives are needed, says international accountancy network

Time 1 month ago

Electric car sales in the UK rocketed by 186 per cent to more than 108,000 in 2020.

That’s according to a global study by international accountancy network UHY, which looked at sales of battery-electric passenger cars, excluding hybrids.

The phenomenal growth to 108,205 from 37,850 in 2019 is six times higher than the average global growth in EV sales at 31 per cent, and puts the UK fourth out of 26 countries.


Electric car sales 2019 and 2020 via UHY

Source: UHY

What’s more, UHY says the worldwide growth in EV sales has outpaced that of global cars, including petrol and diesel, which fell by approximately 15 per cent to 64m in 2020 – down from 75m in 2019.

Less than a fifth (19 per cent) of countries in the study saw sales of electric cars decline during the first year of lockdown, including Japan, where they fell by 31 per cent, and Canada, which was down by 20 per cent in 2020.

Sales of new petrol and diesel cars are to be banned in the UK by 2030 and hybrids from 2035.

However, UHY is warning that despite this, the UK’s EV incentives aren’t especially competitive compared with those of other countries, and if the costs of electric cars aren’t reduced further, that could hold back the UK in the race to net zero.


The government has provided nearly £1.3bn in incentives for ultra-low emission vehicles since 2011 but there have been cutbacks.

Previously, a £5,000 grant was available without a cap on the price of the vehicle being bought. Now though, grants only cover up to £2,500 and the purchase price is limited to £35,000.

There is also a grant that funds 75 per cent up to £350 of installing charging points at domestic properties.

David Kendrick, partner at UHY Hacker Young, UHY’s member firm in the UK, said: ‘It’s encouraging to see such a high growth rate in electric car sales in the UK. It’s one of the top performers, far ahead of other major economies such as the US.

‘However, petrol and diesel cars still dominate the UK’s automotive market, meaning electric car sales must grow much faster if we’re going to meet our ambitious targets.

‘In order to facilitate this growth, a commitment to creating a vast amount of charging points over the next few years will be critical.

‘It will also be reliant on the National Grid being able to provide enough energy to fuel this transition to electric cars and the extra demand this will create.

‘The government needs to think about boosting EV incentives rather than reducing them.

‘Unfortunately, the decision to slash grants for electric cars will have put them further out of reach for some people. However, it’s not too late for more benefits to be introduced.’

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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