Record-breaking year for electric car sales, but overall market flat

Record-breaking year for electric car sales, but overall market flat

“Demand is still strong. The challenge is how you maximise your ability to supply customers when supply is so heavily challenged.”

While sales of plug-in vehicles have grown massively, petrol remains by far the most popular power source, with a 58.5% market share. Diesel accounted for 16.0% of registrations, still outperforming electric vehicles for now.

Superminis remained Britain’s most popular cars, with 513,000 registrations, followed by the lower medium (449,000) and dual-purpose (443,000) segments.

Vauxhall beats Ford to the top spot 

The Vauxhall Corsa was the top-selling car of the year and sees a new brand at the top of the standings for the first time in 50 years. The electric Tesla Model 3, an unexpected candidate, came in second place followed by the Mini hatchback. 

The Ford Fiesta, which has topped the charts for a number of years, is nowhere to be seen in the top 10, restricted by supply issues caused by the semiconductor shortage. The only Ford car ranked in the top 10 is its popular Puma compact SUV in eighth position.

A Ford spokesman told Autocar: “In 2021, semiconductor shortages meant we prioritised commercial vehicles, customer orders and newer products like Puma and Kuga, and have consequently sold less of our traditional models like Fiesta and Focus. 

“As is evident from our passenger range, it is becoming far more focused around sports utilities, with around 64% of all our passenger vehicle sales across Europe in the third quarter being SUVs.”

The Model 3 is the best-selling electric car, with the Kia Niro and Volkswagen ID 3 placed second and third respectively. For a full rundown of the best-selling cars, plus electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, see below.

Predictions for the year ahead and beyond

SMMT predicts sales of 1.96 million for 2022, an increase on this year but nowhere near what it considers a ‘normal’ run rate of 2.25 million to 2.3 million. Hawes said the pressures from the semiconductor shortage are expected to ease as the year goes on, but are likely to run into 2023, adding that “different brands are affected to a greater or lesser extent, depending on their relationship with semiconductor suppliers”.