Last Updated on 15/07/2021

  • We thought our readers might be interested to know what’s happening in the electric car marketplace in the UK. There is certainly a growth in demand as technology improves, but what are the trends and why does it make sense from a financial and environmental perspective to consider buying an electric car?

    The UK Market for EVs

    In November 2014, with 646 all-electric cars and 1,225 plug-in hybrids registered, the segment’s market share passed 1% of monthly new car sales for the first time in the UK. Again in January 2015, the segment’s market share was over 1% of new car sales with 1,715 plug-in electric cars registered that month.

    Nissan Leaf (the UK’s most popular electric car) sales in September 2014 achieved a record of 851 units, up from 332 units the same month in 2013, representing not only the best monthly sales ever in the UK, but also the largest volume of Nissan Leafs ever sold in one month in a European country. Sales of recently introduced BMW i3 and i8 models exceeded 1,600 units during 2014. The Outlander P-HEV was among the new models with a significant effect in the market, released in April 2014, it captured a 35.8% market share of total plug-in sales during the first half of 2014.

    The Mitsubishi plug-in hybrid became the top selling plug-in electric vehicle in July 2014 and captured 43% of all applications to the Plug-in Car Grants scheme that month.The Outlander P-HEV ended 2014 as the top selling plug-in electric car in the UK that year with 5,370 units sold. The Nissan Leaf sales also experienced a significant growth in 2014, with 4,051 units sold, up 124% from the 1,812 units sold in 2013.

    As of December 2014, the Leaf continued ranking as the top selling plug-in electric car ever in the UK with cumulative sales of 7,197 units since its introduction in March 2011. Sales of the Mitsubishi Outlander P-HEV in the British market reached the 10,000 unit milestone in March 2015, allowing the plug-in hybrid to overtake the Leaf as the all-time top selling plug-in electric vehicle in the UK.

    Focus on the Nissan Leaf

    Click here to watch a video presented by Mark Goodier, the BC radio broadcaster who owns two Nissan LEAFs.

    What are the benefits of running a Nissan Leaf?

    Firstly there are clear environmental benefits. The 100% electric cars leave no trail of CO2. The Nissan Leaf has zero emissions, hence there is no exhaust pipe. So no nasty polllutants and smells in the air.

    Secondly, there are substantial financial savings. These include:

    • No need to ever pay for diesel of petrol again!
    • No London Congestion Charge
    • No road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty)
    • For businesses, the LEAF is in the lowest Benefit-in-Kind band.
    • Free parking at a network of public charge points
    • Charging the battery is free at Nissan dealerships across the UK
    • Electric cars should be more reliable since they have fewer parts so low running costs
    • They are powered by lithium-ion batteries that are more durable than traditional lead-acid batteries. That said, they do require the purchase of a replacement battery about every 4 to 5 years.

    Thirdly, the Nissan Leaf offers dynamic acceleration (0 to 60 in 7 seconds) and incredible torque (the force that powers acceleration). This means it pulls away as well or better than a petrol-fuelled car. Its speed is impressive too, with a top speed of 93mph. Its also very quiet – at 21 decibels, that’s less noise than a ceiling fan (26db).

    It also carries lots of other features e.g. sat nav, rear view camera and climate control. Using your smartphone or computer, you can remotely start or stop the car’s climate control or start charging, so everything’s ready to go when you are. On the road, the CARWINGS telematic sat nav system tells you the exact amount of energy required to reach your destination and where the nearest charging stations are, so you can charge your Nissan LEAF on the go.

    So how much does a Nissan Leaf cost?

    The Nissan Leaf Visia Flex “On the Road” price is currently ?21,490 incl VAT. Take off the Government’s Plug-In Car Grant (up to 25% of price of the vehicle – see paragraph below) and the true price after VAT drops to ?16,490. On top of this, you have to pay between ?70 and ?130 per month to lease the battery. And the price of the electricity needs to be considered too – though if you happen to own solar panels, you’re generating your own fuel for your vehicle.

    Alternatively you can now get your hands on a second hand Nissan Leaf as they were introduced in 2011. The residual value can drop sharply – one source stated a 55% drop – so buying second hand may be a sensible route to save even more money. However you miss out on the Plug-in grant if you buy second hand.

    Government Plug-In Car Grant

    The Plug-in Car Grant program started on 1 January 2011 and reduces the up-front cost of eligible cars by providing a 35% grant towards the cost of new plug-in cars capped at ?5,000. Both private and business fleet buyers are eligible for this grant, which is received at the point of purchase and the subsidy is claimed back by the manufacturer afterwards. The grant will remain in place until either 50,000 grants have been issued or 2017, whichever is first.

    The Plug-In Car Grant was extended to include vans in February 2012. Van buyers can receive 20% – up to ?8,000 – off the cost of a plug-in van. To be eligible for the scheme, vans have to meet performance criteria to ensure safety, range, and ultra-low tailpipe emissions. Consumers, both business and private can receive the discount at the point of purchase.

    As of January 2015, the cumulative number of eligible registered plug-in electric vehicles totalled over 25,000 units since the launch of the programme. Of these, a total of 21,680 were eligible cars registered since January 2011.

    Where can I charge the battery on the move?

    One of the biggest concerns voiced by potential buyers of electric vehicles is the lack of range before having to re-charge the battery. To counter this, and to boost demand for electric vehicles, the Government is supporting the ?Plugged-In Places? programme to install vehicle recharging points across the UK.

    The scheme offers match-funding to consortia of businesses and public sector partners to support the installation of electric vehicle recharging infrastructure in lead places across the UK. There are eight Plugged-In Places: East of England, Greater Manchester, London, Midlands, Milton Keynes, North East, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

    Where do I find out the locations of electric plug-in stations across the UK?

    There is plenty of help on the internet. For example, you can visit, a website dedicated to all aspects of electric vehicles and charging. There you will find a charge point map, search tools, up-to-date stats, in-depth charge point and Electric Vehicle (EV) info and all the latest news. So is a helpful resource for all users of EV.

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