Nearly one million pure EVs on UK roads05 Jan 2024

News comes as 'ZEV mandate' introduced

There are almost one million pure battery electric (BEV) cars, vans and taxis on the road in the UK, analysis by the RAC Foundation shows.

There were 993,216 such vehicles licensed as of the end of December 2023.

At the start of the year there were 673,660 on the UK’s roads.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) 314,687 pure battery-electric cars were sold in 2023 out of a total of 1,903,054 cars sold during the year.

This gave BEV cars a market share of 16.5%, slightly down on the 16.6% share seen in 2022.

In 2023, 54.7% of all new cars sold were bought by fleets.

The data emerges as the Zero Emission Mandate comes into force.

Under the mandate the big car car companies must ensure at least 22% of all new cars they sell in Great Britain during 2024 are zero emission. This proportion will increase annually, rising to 80% by 2030. In 2035 the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the UK.

If manufacturers fail to meet the required proportion of zero emission sales they face a potential fine of £15,000 for each non-compliant vehicle sold above the threshold. Alternatively they can use any credits they have gained by exceeding their BEV quotas in previous years or else they can trade credits with other car manufacturers.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

 “The one million mark is a major milestone but needs to be kept in perspective. EVs still only make up about three percent of the total number of cars on UK roads and recent sales have been far from stellar.

“At a time when hard-pressed households are acutely aware of the cost of living the price of buying and running a battery-powered car both have to add up, and that can be a tricky judgement call for those juggling family finances.

“Ironically the recent fall in pump prices, hugely welcomed by tens of millions of drivers, does few favours for salesmen seeking to shift EVs based on their relative running costs.

“The Competition and Markets Authority is compelling petrol and diesel retailers to publish their prices so consumers can do their own comparisons. Perhaps that also needs to happen in the world of public charge points so the varied price of electricity is transparent to drivers.

“Electric cars were last on the verge of being the next big thing over a century ago. Maybe now their time has come, with many new models promised for our showrooms through 2024.

“From 2024 car makers will be under a legal obligation to sell a growing percentage of EVs each year but with the public being under no obligation to buy them, the pressure is on for the auto companies to come up with keenly priced offers that will tempt car-buyers to make the switch.”



Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation

[email protected] | 07711 776448

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users.

The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist. All the Foundation’s work is available at: