Private registrations of pure-electric vehicles surged by 53.3% nationwide in the 12 months to September 2020, according to the RAC, but there are stark regional differences in EV uptake across the UK. 

Nearly 30,000 more full EVs were sold to private buyers during the 12 months than in the same period the year before. At the end of the period, some 86,130 EVs were in private hands while 86,387 – nearly exactly the same number – were registered by companies.

“This is a 150% increase compared to a year earlier,” noted the RAC, “a clear indication of the rising popularity of electric vehicles among companies and something that is vital for the future health of the second-hand EV market.”

The figures reveal which areas of the UK saw the sharpest and slowest EV uptake rates during the 12-month period, with five London boroughs – Barking and Dagenham, Waltham Forest, Newham, Sutton and Hackney – each recording a growth rate of more than 86%. 

The Derbyshire town of Bolsover saw an uptick of 100%, while Eden, Pembrokeshire, Eastbourne and Bolton also feature on the list of areas that saw the sharpest growth in privately licensed EVs. 

By contrast, just eight new EVs were registered in Armagh in Northern Ireland during the period, with Gateshead and Sunderland and the Orkney Islands also recording incremental increases. The Isles of Scilly was the only region to record a decline in privately licensed EVs, posting a drop from 28 vehicles to 25. 

RAC representative Rod Dennis said: “While starting from very small beginnings when you consider there are around 32 million cars licensed for use in the entire UK, the growth in pure electric vehicles is extremely promising. There is a long way to go, not least as only half of these vehicles are in private hands, compared to nine in 10 of all cars, but it’s clear that the numbers are only going one way.

“The biggest annual rise in the numbers of vehicles is among those licensed by companies, which suggests the clear tax benefits given to company car drivers are beginning to stoke demand. It’s vital this continues, as in many cases the new company vehicles of today will be the ones appearing on the second-hand consumer market in three or more years from now.”

The RAC said the numbers show the south and east of England “currently dominate” the private EV registration rankings, which tallies with the higher rate of EV breakdowns attended by RAC patrols in these regions. 

According to the SMMT, there are now around 213,000 battery-electric vehicles registered in the UK, a number that has nearly doubled in just the last year. 

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