Twice as many electric vehicles (EVs) were registered in 2020 compared to the previous year. New company car tax rates are suggested to be driving uptake.

The latest sales data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) by the RAC, has revealed that more than 200,000 pure EVs have now been registered since 2010.

There were 108,205 BEVs sold in 2020, far higher than the 66,879 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) registered during the year.

21,914 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were registered in December 2020, the highest ever recorded in a single month, beating September’s figure of 21,903.

The SMMT data shows that 110,087 non-plug-in mild hybrids were registered.

The RAC’S Rod Dennis says that there’s still a long way to go, with only a “tiny fraction” of the total 31.2 million cars on the UK’s roads fully zero-emission:

“The sight of more electric vehicles on our roads, many sporting number plates with the new ‘trademark’ green flash, might begin to make drivers who are considering changing their car look into whether ‘going electric’ makes sense for them.

“Issues around charging infrastructure aside, it’s the cold hard economics of buying or leasing a car that might yet hold them back with pure electric cars continuing to command a premium list price over their petrol and diesel equivalents”.

It is believed that incentives for fleets and company car drivers have helped drive the record-breaking year for EV registrations, thanks to new benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rates, introduced last spring.

Most of these registrations for BEVs and PHEVs (68%) were from fleets.

Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), commented “2020 has been a tipping point” for EV uptake:

“The latest BVRLA data shows that the fleet sector continues to lead the charge towards zero emission motoring, with battery electric vehicles responsible for 21% of company car registrations in the three months to October 2020”.

He added that it also demonstrates what can be achieved when Government works closely with fleets to develop grants and tax incentives, plus invest in a robust public charging network.

6.6% of all new vehicles registered in 2020 are zero-emission, up from just 1.6% in 2019 and 0.7% in 2018, an impressive growth.

Dennis said: “While petrol car registrations will likely recover somewhat in 2021, the question is how many drivers are prepared to switch to an EV at the expense of conventionally fuelled vehicles.

“As the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt the inclination of drivers and businesses to continue acquiring new cars will be critical, as will the effectiveness of dealers in being able to conduct new car sales entirely online during lockdowns. But there is surely little doubt that 2021 will shape up to be a very exciting year for the UK’s electric car market”.

More than 100 plug-in car models are now available, with manufacturers scheduling more than 35 to come market in 2021. That’s a greater number than either petrol or diesel new models planned for the year.