The Tesla Model 3 has become the most popular battery-electric car on UK roads after sales surged as the race to dominate the new era of the auto industry intensifies.
Number of Model 3s on UK roads topped Nissan’s Leaf models in first four months of 2021, independent independent Matthias Schmidt calculated electric car analyst. There are now 39,900 Model 3s in the UK, up from 38,900 Leaves, many of which are built at Nissan’s Sunderland plant.
The Model 3 population lagged slightly behind the Mitsubishi Outlander, the most popular plug-in hybrid, in April, but the Tesla is expected to become the most popular car that can recharge from a socket in a matter of months.
Electric car sales increase in the wealthy world as mainstream automakers face tougher carbon dioxide emission rules and the prospect of bans. New cars relying solely on gasoline and diesel engines will be banned in the UK from 2030, and hybrids that combine engine and battery will be phased out after 2035.
Sales of battery-electric cars continued to increase, albeit from a weak base. By May 2021, 232,000 electric cars had been sold in the UK, a tenfold increase in five years, according to New Automotive, a think tank. Battery-powered electric cars made up 8.4% of total sales in May, according to figures released Friday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the UK automotive lobby group.
Traditional automakers have offered a host of new electric models, although Schmidt said the Tesla Model 3 would likely be the most popular UK model for a “relatively long period” because of its narrow product line. However, the Model Y crossover SUV could quickly become Tesla’s most popular UK version after 2022.
Globally, the American automaker was the biggest seller of electric cars in 2020, but two European automakers – the German Volkswagen and Stellantis, the result of the Peugeot-Fiat Chrysler merger – have sold more electric cars than Tesla in Western Europe in the first three months of 2020, according to Schmidt’s research.
“The Volkswagen group is bringing a range of new products to market, but the volumes are diluted on a relatively large number of models, ID.3, ID.4, ID.5 and Audi Q4,” Schmidt said.
Ben Nelmes, head of policy at New AutoMotive, said the Model 3 was “a revolutionary car” because of its effect on other automakers, forcing them to speed up the introduction of their own electric models.
“The speed at which the Tesla Model 3 has gone from zero to market leader has shown other automakers the opportunities of electric vehicles,” said Nelmes. “As a result, they tear up their strategies. Manufacturers are launching more electric models and driving market growth. “
More than 100 rechargeable car models, including electric and hybrid batteries, are available to UK buyers, and the SMMT has found that 35 more are due to hit the market this year.
As the cost of making electric cars drops, other automakers are hoping to create genuinely mainstream cars that are cheaper than the Model 3, which, at a low of £ 40,990, is still out of reach for many. Volkswagen is quickly ramping up production of its small family car ID.3, while BMW is hoping that the electric Mini, built in Oxford, will renew the success of its petrol version.
Despite the barrage of new electric models, the scale of the challenge to electrify the UK fleet of 35 million cars – and actually reduce CO emissions2 significant emissions – remains huge. The number of Teslas on UK roads is only a tiny fraction of combustion engine models. In 2020, there were nearly 1.6 million Ford Fiestas in service in the UK and 1.2 million Ford Focuses, according to the SMMT.
An electric car model will need to generate up to 500,000 sales in the UK to be in the top 10. The used electric car market is growing rapidly as the first generation of models is passed on, but it will take years for electricity to be passed on to people. who does not want or cannot afford a new car.
Automakers also face a daunting challenge to increase production of electric cars. Nissan revealed on Friday that it had to delay the release of its Ariya electric SUV due to the global computer chip shortage. Cars are already using up to 100 chips to control functions ranging from air conditioning to entertainment touchscreens, while electric cars are even more dependent on chips to control their batteries. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said this week on Twitter that prices “were rising due to major industry-wide supply chain pricing pressure.”
Industry also fears that efforts to electrify the fleet in the UK and elsewhere will also falter without additional public investment in charging points across the country.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of SMMT, said demand for electric cars is helping the new vehicle market recover from the latest lockdown, but he and others in the industry have consistently warned that access to charging was a key issue.
“Electric cars must be an option for everyone. The government can help through consistent, long-term tax incentives and by creating the right conditions to enable much needed investment in charging infrastructure, especially public charging on the streets in residential areas, ”said Hawes. “We need to make recharging as easy as refueling. “