Electric cars soar in ownership over last three years

Man trying a new charging cable with a car charging station at the car dealership. Concept of buying electric charging for car

Electric vehicles have become increasingly popular on UK roads, with charging stations being built in supermarket car parks and schemes available to add a charging port to your home.

Insurance experts at A-plan Insurance have analysed data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency showing the number of privately owned cars and what fuel they use across each region of the United Kingdom. The data looked at the last quarters of 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Since 2011, the UK government has pushed for vehicles powered by electricity, through a hybrid or fully electric engine, to be used by the public due to the positive environmental effects. However, a lack of infrastructure, such as charging stations, and the high price of these vehicles have hampered their use.

The data shows that private ownership of hybrid electric vehicles has risen by 83% across the United Kingdom, while ownership of fully electric vehicles has risen by 178%.

Ownership has fallen over the past three years for traditional fuels like petrol and diesel. Diesel cars have had the largest decrease of 3% over this time.

Region Fuel Type Q4 2020 Q4 2021 Q4 2022 
United Kingdom Petrol 1,757,700 1,751,600 1,753,000 
 Diesel 1,118,000 1,101,200 1,076,500 
 Hybrid Electric 471,000 646,000 863,000 
 Electric 91,129 163,909 253,679 
England Petrol 1,500,200 1,495,200 1,495,300 
 Diesel 907,200 892,400 872,000 
 Hybrid Electric 425,000 574,000 760,000 
 Electric 79,417 142,827 220,355 
Scotland Petrol 138,600 136,700 137,800 
 Diesel 93,900 91,300 87,900 
 Hybrid Electric 26,000 41,000 59,000 
 Electric 7,692 13,733 21,338 
Wales Petrol 82,800 82,500 82,900 
 Diesel 64,700 64,600 63,700 
 Hybrid Electric 13,000 20,000 29,000 
 Electric 2,742 5,264 8,502 
Northern Ireland Petrol 37,600 36,900 36,800 
 Diesel 52,100 52,800 52,700 
 Hybrid Electric 6,000 10,000 14,000 
 Electric 1,274 2,077 3,463 

The region with the highest increase in hybrid electric vehicles is Northern Ireland, with a 133% increase in ownership. England is the region with the lowest increase in hybrid electric vehicles, having only a 78% increase over the last three years.

For fully electric vehicles, Wales has the highest increase in private ownership, with 210%. In comparison, Northern Ireland has only a 171% increase making it the region with the lowest increase.

A Welsh government report from 2020 showed that there were only 302 charging points across the whole of Wales, with the highest number being found in Cardiff. The Welsh government announced grants to help install electric charging points at homes and businesses.

As of July 2023, the number of charge points in the UK reached 45,737, a 40% increase over 2022. Of these, 32% are in the Greater London area alone. 8.9% are in Scotland, 4.2% are in Wales and only 1% are in Northern Ireland.

A spokesperson for A-plan commented on the findings:

“Electric and hybrid vehicles are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. With the government’s plan to ban new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 and then to ban all new vehicles that do not have zero emissions by 2035, manufacturers have been increasing the options for low and zero-emission cars.

“Used vehicles have historically been a cheaper option for young drivers; however, car tax changes and increases in fuel prices have made older cars much more expensive to drive and maintain. On average, an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle costs around £10-£15 less than an equivalent petrol journey; however, the upfront cost of an electric vehicle is much higher. Used hybrid and electric vehicles are available but come at a higher price than their petrol counterparts.

“Infrastructure improvements and financial grants to make hybrid or fully electric vehicles more appealing are essential to meet the zero emissions goals.”

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