YPS insight: The UK’s best-selling electric vehicles

The UK’s electric vehicle market is growing quickly, but what are the best selling makes and models?


YourParkingSpace has analysed vehicle registration figures published each quarter by the Department for Transport, which breaks down all models that are on the road during each three months of the year.

We look at the key pure-electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to discover the best-selling makes, models, and manufacturing groups.


Current data is correct as of Q4 2021 - the most up to date DfT data currently available, as the department publishes figures a quarter behind each time.

  • Best-selling UK electric car: Tesla Model 3
  • Best-selling UK electric manufacturer: BMW
  • Best-selling UK electric manufacturing group: Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance

Best-selling EV brands


With a total of 99,441 electric models on UK roads by the end of 2021 BMW is the UK’s leading EV manufacturer to date - looking at pure-electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicle registrations. It’s taken top spot through a combination of a wide selection of models on the market, plus entering the electric vehicle race early on with the likes of its i3 and i8 models.

There are currently 13 different plug-in models that feature in the DfT statistics, with new models such as the BMW i4 above just starting to come online by the end of the year.

Having started out early on with the likes of the i3 and i8, BMW then quickly built up a solid PHEV range across core models such as the 3 Series, 5 Series, X3, and X5, before starting the second phase of its EV expansion. Recent additions include the BMW i4, iX, and iX3 which have started showing up in UK registrations data.

Not far behind BMW is Tesla, with 83,249 models registered to the end of 2021 - an increase of almost 13,000 units on Q4 2021 alone. The rapid climb up the charts is an impressive feat considering Tesla’s line-up is small - with just four models currently offered for sale or to order - one of which, the Model Y, is too new to appear on the DfT statistics. Deliveries of the Model Y have started, so expect to see this coming through on the next set of statistics.

Tesla’s strength however is that the US firm only produces electric vehicles, meaning every model that comes to the UK counts towards its total in this chart. 

Having initially relied on the Model S as a mass-market model (following on from the exciting but small-scale production first-generation Roadster), Tesla has expanded its line-up with the Model X, and the shifted to more mainstream models with the Model 3 and brand new Model Y.

Nissan’s pioneering Leaf helps the Japanese manufacturer to third place in the charts, with the e-NV200 van and MPV boosting total registrations slightly. Group stable-mate Mitsubishi drops down to fifth place at the end of 2021, though considering the manufacturer is no longer selling new cars in the UK, this remains a strong indication of just how popular its Outlander PHEV was. 

Finally, Mercedes-Benz rounds out the top 5, now sitting in fourth place, having overtaken Mitsubishi. The German giant has the largest selection of plug-in cars available in the UK. There are currently 20 electric models on sale in the UK - five pure-electric and 15 plug-in hybrid - plus variants (saloon/estate/coupe etc) and legacy badges, creating one of the largest ranges of plug-in models around - and the EQB is too new to appear in this set of statistics, so make that 21 plug-in models and six pure-EVs next time around.

Manufacturer2021BMW99,441Tesla 83,249Nissan54,936Mercedes-Benz51,518Mitsubishi49,814Volkswagen46,342Audi35,636Kia32,913Volvo31,599Renault26,659

Best-selling electric cars


Tesla’s Model 3 has quickly made top spot in the best-selling electric vehicle charts its own, having only gone on sale in the UK at the end of spring 2019. In less than three years, the Model 3 has overcome previous incumbent, Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV, and overtook the best-selling pure-EV Nissan’s Leaf, by Q1 2021.

At the end of 2021, 66,624 Tesla Model 3’s were registered on UK roads, an increase of more than 34,000 units compared to the end of 2020 - accounting for more than a third of all pure-EVs sold in the year. This comfortably put it ahead of second-placed model, the Outlander PHEV, and Nissan’s Leaf in third.

BMW’s popular 3 Series sits in fourth in the table thanks to a long-running and cheap-to-run plug-in hybrid powertrain, while BMW also takes fifth spot with the i3 city car.

Make-Model2021Tesla Model 366,624Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV49,574Nissan Leaf45,615BMW 3 Series PHEV35,714BMW i323,524Renault Zoe22,031Kia e-Niro19,265Jaguar I-Pace17,936Volkswagen ID.315,523Audi e-tron14,157

Best-selling pure-electric cars


Looking at purely electric models, the Tesla Model 3 sits first, ahead of the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, Kia e-Niro, and Jaguar I-Pace, completing the top five respectively.

Other than the fast-selling Tesla Model 3, Volkswagen’s ID.3 is particularly noteworthy, since it has climbed to sixth place in the pure-EV table in just over a year, and tenth when factoring in PHEVs too.

Make-Model2021Tesla Model 366,624Nissan Leaf45,615Renault Zoe22,031Kia e-Niro19,265Jaguar I-Pace17,936Volkswagen ID.315,523BMW i315,048Audi e-tron14,157Hyundai Kona Electric12,237MG ZS EV11,255

Top electric car groups

EV policy is not decided at manufacturer level, rather at manufacturer group level. Therefore it’s worth looking at which groups are performing well, to see how the market is likely to shape up in future sales figures.

In this case the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance tops the charts, thanks primarily to having three of the UK’s best-selling EVs in its portfolio - the Outlander PHEV, Leaf, and Zoe.

However, since Mitsubishi no longe r sells new cars in the UK, it is not likely to top the group table for too much longer, despite the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe performing strongly. To continue to stay at, or close to, the top Nissan’s forthcoming Ariya will need to start selling quickly.

Having predicted in the previous version of this analysis that the BMW Group could be at the top of the group table, it hasn’t quite achieved that aim. Still, with the i4, iX, and iX3 pure-EVs coming increasingly on stream, plus established models such as the Mini Electric and the PHEVs, it shouldn’t take long for the Munich firm to take top spot.

The Volkswagen Group is the fastest growing manufacturer however, selling almost 55,000 units over 2021. Compared with a 42,000 unit increase from the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance, and 40,000 increase from the BMW Group, VW is accelerating the number of electric cars on the road in the UK faster than any other group currently.

With the likes of the VWs ID.3 and ID.4 becoming established models, plus the Skoda Enyaq iV and Audi Q4 e-tron - all of which share a platform - starting to get plenty of models into dealerships, it is of little surprise that the VW Group is growing faster than any other. Plus, the portfolio of brands includes VW, Skoda, Seat, Cupra, Audi, Porsche, and Bentley.

Another name to look out for is Stellantis, with a number of factors set to start propelling it up the sales charts quickly. A wide range of pure-electric models, from popular superminis and crossovers to a large electric van offering mean brands including Peugeot, Citroen, and Vauxhall will start quickly accumulating EV sales. 

On top of this, last year Stellantis merged with the FCA Group, which includes the likes of Fiat and Jeep. The Fiat 500 in particular is electric-only, and already proving a popular model both in Europe and the UK. Stellantis sold 30,000 plug-in cars in 2021, putting it sixth in the year’s best-selling groups and growing rapidly from the 10,000 EVs it had sold by the start of the year.

Manufacturing Group2021Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance131,409BMW Group 120,079VW Group111,762Tesla83,249Hyundai-Kia59,186Daimler55,547Geely42,196Jaguar Land Rover41,140Stellantis40,784SAIC15,168

Focus on pure-EVs


When looking at pure-electric models alone, the table moves about a fair bit. Unsurprisingly, considering its entirely-EV based line-up, Tesla sits top, and BMW drops down from 1st to 7th. 

Long-running models such as the Leaf and Zoe help Nissan and Renault respectively stay high up the list, though Volkswagen has climbed to third on the list already, overtaking Renault from Q3’s figures.

Names to look out for that are expected to climb the chart in coming quarters include Kia and Hyundai as the EV6 and Ioniq 5 respectively reach drivers, BMW with its iX set to start getting significant registrations and the i4 now appearing in the statistics, Fiat with its 500, and MG as updated versions of its ZS EV and MG5 EV make it to the UK.

Manufacturer2021Tesla83,249Nissan54,936Volkswagen29,221Renault26,487Kia22,032Hyundai21,350BMW18,587Audi18,486Jaguar17,936MG Motors16,520

Where is the market heading?

Although dominated by plug-in hybrids for a number of years, the tide has now swung over the past couple of years months to see pure-EVs become the main electric vehicle powertrain sold. As such, it is clear that manufacturers need to prioritise these if they are to move up the sales charts. 

In Q1 2021, the EV-PHEV mix was 49:51, but switched in Q2 to 51:49 in favour of pure-EVs. Q4 has seen that trend grow already to 54:46, and the trend is only expected to extend further in coming years.

Tesla holds a significant lead, and continues to expand its sales quickly. On top of that, within the next few quarters, the Model Y is going to start arriving in the sales charts, further strengthening its position. However, the company is not currently large enough that a concerted effort by a leading ‘conventional’ car maker couldn’t overhaul it within a year or so, and there are plenty of names in line for expansion. The likes of Volkswagen, Hyundai, BMW, Audi, Fiat, Mercedes-Benz, and Kia look set to electrify the market going forward.