UK reaches EV milestone with one million electric cars sold

The UK has reached a milestone in electric vehicle (EV) sales, with the millionth battery electric car registered last month.

A total of 20,935 fully electric cars were registered in January, up 21% compared to the same month last year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). This takes the overall total since 2002 to 1,001,677.

However, the recent growth is entirely driven by fleet sales, with sales to private buyers actually falling.

That trend is mirrored in the overall car sales figures, with a total of 142,876 new cars registered in the first month of the year, an increase of 10,882 units on January 2023 and the 18th consecutive month of growth. Fleet market sales rose by 29.9%, while private retail sales were down 15.8%.

Fleets accounted for more than six in 10 (63.2%) new cars registered last month, up from just over half (52.7%) a year ago.

“It’s taken just over 20 years to reach our million EV milestone — but with the right policies, we can double down on that success in just another two,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

Highlighting the current dependence on businesses and fleets for market growth, Hawes urged the UK government to use the upcoming Budget to temporarily halve VAT on electric vehicles in order to boost demand from private buyers.

“Manufacturers have been asked to supply the vehicles, we now ask government to help consumers buy the vehicles on which net zero depends,” he said.