The UK's best selling plug-in cars revealed

By March this year, there were close to 60,000 electric or plug-in hybrid cars driving in the UK

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - front

Electric car sales continue to surge in the UK, with the latest figures showing close to 60,000 currently on the road. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV accounts for nearly a third of those, but there's an increasingly wide range of different models on the roads.

According to DVLA figures analysed by the RAC Foundation by the end of March 2016 there were 19,945 plug-in hybrid electric Outlanders licenced in the UK, over 7,000 more than the next best selling electric or plug-in car, the Nissan Leaf.

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The Leaf, however, is the UK’s best-selling battery-electric car. The 12,469 Leafs come with an electric-only drivetrain, whereas the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine to complement the batteries and the electric motor. 

• Best electric cars on sale 2016

In third place was the BMW i3, with over 4,500 currently on the road. The i3 comes with a choice of two drive trains, with owners able to spec either a battery electric or a range extender with a 650cc two-cylinder petrol engine to boost the electric car’s range.

Currently there are 58,469 plug-in eligible cars licenced in the UK, 10,549 more than at the end of last year. Mitsubishi will have to start keeping an eye on the competition, however, as Volvo and Mercedes-Benz were identified as producing the two cars with the highest growing sales. 

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Sales of the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid have risen by 1,400 per cent in the last year, while Mercedes-Benz has seen a 200 per cent rise in sales of its C350 e.



Make and Model



Number of cars on the road as of end of March  2016









Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (cars and vans)            19,945




Nissan Leaf             12,469




BMW i3 (including range extender)


        4,065    (2,855)





Renault Zoe               3,918




Tesla Model S               2,826




Volkswagen Golf GTE               1,970




Mercedes-Benz C350 e               1,898




Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid               1,651




Audi A3 e-tron               1,445




Vauxhall Ampera               1,261




Nissan e-NV200               1,243




BMW i8               1,163




Renault Kangoo ZE                   755




Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine                   561




Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid                   454

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The ultra-green car market remains a two-horse race. Between them the Mitsubishi Outlander and the Nissan Leaf account for well over half of all plug-in car grant eligible vehicles on the road. But in recent months it is the Outlander which has been making the running with sales racing ahead of those for the Leaf.

“The big question is what happens now. The start of March saw significant changes to the plug-in car grant scheme. Not only did the maximum grant drop from £5,000 to £4,500, in some cases it is as little as £2,500 depending which vehicle the buyer chooses. Manufacturers will be nervously watching how much this changes consumer behaviour.”

Are you planning to buy an electric car in the future? Tell us in the comments below...



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