RAC Cars News


The Biggest Selling Plug-ins in the UK

By raccars Published

Nissan Leaf

By March 2016 there were almost 60,000 plug-in or electric hybrid cars on the UK’s roads.

According to statistics compiled by the DVLA and analysed by the RAC, there were almost 60,000 electric cars on Britain’s roads as of March 2016. With 19,945 hybrid electrics sold, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV model was the most popular plug-in, commanding an impressive third of the overall total and selling over 7,000 more vehicles than its nearest competitor, the nippy little Nissan Leaf.

In total there were 58,469 plug-in vehicles registered in the UK, over 10,500 more than were licenced in the previous year. As more and more people look to green alternatives in every aspect of their lives, the growing popularity of electric and hybrid cars is revolutionising the motoring industry and creating stiff competition between some of the biggest brands.

The UK’s Top Plug-ins Go Head to Head

While the Outlander may be the biggest selling plug-in, the Nissan Leaf takes the crown as the UK’s best-selling battery-electric car. Whereas the Mitsubishi Outlander relies on a 2.0 litre four-cylinder petrol engine to support its electric motor and batteries, the 12,469 Leaf models sold have a drive train which is electric-only.

Taking the bronze place, BMW has managed to sell over 4,500 of its i3 model. With a choice of two drive trains, buyers can opt for a battery electric or a 650cc two cylinder range extender petrol engine, greatly increasing the number of miles the i3 can cover.

As RAC Foundation Director Steve Gooding has said, the green car market is still a two-horse race between the popular Mitsubishi and Nissan models, with the Outlander and Leaf plug-ins holding well over half of the overall sales tally. The future is uncertain, however, as the grant scheme for plug-in cars was changed significantly at the beginning of March. As the maximum grant was slashed from £5,000 to £4,500, car makers are keeping a close eye on how these cuts will affect consumer spending in the longer term. In some cases grants were reduced to as little as £2,500 depending on the model, potentially turning off buyers who had hoped to take advantage of the green scheme.

The Also-Rans

While the Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 claim the top spots, there are plenty more electric and hybrid cars on the market and they are throwing down the gauntlet when it comes to challenging the best-sellers.

In fourth place, the Renault Zoe sold 3,918 units, closing in on the BMW i3. Fifth place went to the Tesla Model S (2,826), sixth place to the Volkswagen Golf GTE (1,970) and seventh to the Mercedes Benz C350 e (1,898).

Further down the list the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid clinched eighth position with 1,651 sales and the Audi A3 e-tron came in at ninth, with 1,445 cars sold. In tenth place Vauxhall’s Ampera model sold 1,261 before Nissan put in another appearance on the best-seller list with its e-NV200 model (1,243).

While it may have come in way down the list in fourteenth place, it is worth noting that sales of Volvo’s XC90 T8 Twin Engine increased by an impressive 1,400 per cent on the previous year, taking its total number of sales to 561.

With rumours rife that Apple is soon to release its own electric car, the future of the plug-in market could be a very exciting one indeed. While Mitsubishi and Nissan continue to dominate, they are nevertheless facing tough competition as sales of other models continue to steadily climb. This may not remain a two-horse race for much longer.

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