It has been two years since the Tesla Model 3 came into the UK’s shores, but the all-electric sedan remains a force to be reckoned with. Based on recent calculations, the Tesla Model 3 has effectively become the UK’s most popular battery-electric car, proving once and for all that well-designed, reasonably-priced EVs will be appreciated by consumers.
As per recent figures from Matthias Schmidt, an independent electric car analyst, the number of Model 3s on British roads have officially overtaken the Nissan Leaf during the first four months of the year. Schmidt noted that there are now 39,900 Model 3s in the UK and 38,900 Nissan Leafs, a good number which were likely produced at Nissan’s Sunderland factory.
This is especially impressive considering that the Tesla Model 3 is a premium electric car that starts at about £40,990, making it out of reach for consumers looking to acquire an affordable electric vehicle. So far, the Model 3’s April numbers are slightly behind the Mitsubishi Outlander, the UK’s most popular plug-in hybrid, though expectations are high that the American-made sedan would overtake its Japanese crossover rival as well within a few months.
The UK is currently seeing a surge in EV sales. By May 2021, about 232,000 electric vehicles had been sold in the UK. This translates to a tenfold increase over five years, as per the New Automotive thinktank. All-electric vehicles also announced for 8.4% of total vehicle sales in May, according to figures shared last week by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), a UK car lobby group.
New Automotive head of policy Ben Nelmes, in a statement to The Guardian, noted that the Model 3 could be seen as a revolutionary car due to the way it affected rival carmakers. This sentiment is not without merit, as the Model 3 did inspire a new generation of all-electric cars from legacy automakers that were evidently a step up from the compliance EVs that were released in the past. With the Model 3 in the market, Nelmes noted that other EVs from legacy carmakers could drive the growth of the segment.
“The speed at which the Tesla Model 3 has gone from zero to market leader has shown other carmakers the opportunities in electric vehicles. As a result, they are tearing up their strategies. Manufacturers are launching more electric models and driving the growth of the market,” he said.
EV sales in the UK are expected to rise even more in the coming years, especially amidst Europe’s strong push to retire the internal combustion engine. In the UK alone, new cars that are strictly powered by the internal combustion engine are poised to be banned from 2030. Even hybrid vehicles that utilize both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor are expected to be banned after 2035.