More electric vehicles were sold in 2021 than the past five years combined

The Eco Experts
electric cars in a car park

190,727 new electric cars were sold last year

45.5% of all cars sold were electric or hybrid

The Tesla Model 3 was the second-most popular car overall


Drivers in the UK bought a record-breaking 190,727 fully electric vehicles in 2021, according to new data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This incredible figure beats the 185,471 sold from the start of 2016 to the end of 2020.

In December alone, an astonishing 26% of all cars sold were electric.

2021 also marked the first year that drivers bought more electric vehicles than diesel cars, with purchases of diesel models falling by 48% compared to 2020, to just 135,773 sales.

The electric future has arrived

Fully electric vehicles increased their market share from 6.6% to 11.6% in 2021, meaning one in nine new cars sold last year were powered solely by electricity.

Hybrids are also gaining in popularity while sales of new petrol and diesel cars plummet.

In 2021, 45.5% of the new cars sold were electric and hybrid vehicles.

That’s a massive increase on 2020, when electric and hybrid cars made up 28.5%, and is four times more than the 10.7% share they had in 2019.

The best-selling electric car of 2021 was the Tesla Model 3, which sold nearly three times more than the runner-up, the Kia e-Niro.

The Tesla was also the first electric vehicle to break into the overall top 10, finishing second behind the Vauxhall Corsa.

Whichever way you slice it, this greener way of driving is taking over.

Electric vehicles thriving despite general car trouble

Sales of new cars in 2021 were 28.7% below their 2019 level, which is largely down to the coronavirus’s continued presence across the country, as well as global supply issues.

For electric vehicles to have such remarkable success in a generally troubled time for the industry is a promising sign for the future of eco-friendly cars.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Despite the challenges, the undeniable bright spot is the growth in electric car uptake.

“A record-breaking year for the cleanest, greenest vehicles is testament to the investment made by the industry over the past decade and the inherent attractiveness of the technology.”

He also urged the government to respond to the rising enthusiasm for electric vehicles by building the necessary infrastructure.

He said: “The biggest obstacle to our shared net zero ambitions is […] cost and charging infrastructure.

“Recent cuts to incentives and home charging grants should be reversed and we need to boost the roll out of public on-street charging with mandated targets.”

The government dedicated £620 million to “zero emission vehicle grants and EV Infrastructure” in October’s Net Zero Strategy.

However, a Department for Transport spokesperson confirmed to The Eco Experts that the funding still hasn’t been allocated.

The spokesperson added: “We’ve committed £2.5bn to accelerate the rollout of zero emission vehicles and charging infrastructure across the country, ensuring the transition is as simple as possible for motorists, as we take steps towards a greener transport future.”

Josh Jackman Senior Writer

Josh has written about eco-friendly home improvements and climate change for the past three years. His work has featured on the front page of the Financial Times; he’s been interviewed by BBC Radio; and he was the resident expert in BT’s smart home tech initiative.

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