Between the continuing Covid-19 pandemic and the semiconductor chip shortage, 2021 turned out to be the second year in a row that the car industry would really like to forget. However, through all the uncertainty and struggle, one constant remained – the rise of the electric car.
With almost every budget, mainstream and premium brand jumping on the all-electric bandwagon this year, 2021 saw a serious acceleration in the registration of battery-powered electric models in the UK – over 190,000 of these new EVs being sold across the Britain during the year.
When you consider that only 160,000 electric cars arrived on UK roads between 2016 and 2020, this is a very impressive accolade for the EV industry. While the number of new diesel cars registered in Britain dropped 48% in 2021, EV sales grew by a staggering 76%, largely thanks to the ten cars listed below.
Earmarked as the future of the automotive industry, electric cars have also received plenty of critical acclaim in the past year. Not only did the all-electric Mercedes-Benz EQS win the The Car Expert’s Car of the Year, but five different EV models won honours at our end of year awards.
Despite the car industry as a whole continuing to struggle with supply shortages, 2022 looks like it will be another blockbuster year for EV sales, bolstered by the many new all-electric models scheduled for release in the coming months.
The ten best-selling electric cars of 2021
1. Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 has set new sales records from EVs in the UK ever since it was launched, and 2021 was no different. Not only was it the most popular new electric car with nearly 35,000 annual sales, but it ended the year second on the best-selling list of all new cars.
The Model 3 has received plenty of positive reviews, and currently holds an Expert Rating of 84% on our industry-leading Expert Rating Index.
2. Kia e-Niro
Despite being some way behind Tesla in sales figures, Kia sold more than 12,000 e-Niro SUVs in 2021, the highest sales of any EV available with the government’s plug-in car grant. However, we are set to see this generation of the e-Niro replaced soon, the new model expected in mid-2022.
Despite being one of the older EVs in the top ten, the e-Niro continues to be held in high regard, with an Expert Rating of 84% as of January 2022.
3. Volkswagen ID.3
Completing the podium is the Volkswagen ID.3, an EV that is widely regarded as one of the leading examples of the new wave of electric cars arriving on our roads, picking up an impressive ten industry awards during 2021.
Praised for its performance and decent battery range, as well as overall comfort and ease of use, the Volkswagen ID.3 currently holds an Expert Rating of 76% – an indentical score to the more traditional Volkswagen Golf.
4. Nissan Leaf
One of the most popular electric cars around the world, the Nissan Leaf has been establishing itself as a capable and cheaper alternative to the chart-topping Tesla Model 3, with more than 9,000 models sold during 2021.
The second-generation Leaf has had generally positive reviews, commended for its generous equipment levels and smooth ride. It currently holds an Expert Rating of 71% on our industry-leading Expert Rating Index.
5. Audi e-tron
Audi’s first ever all-electric production model, the e-tron is a refined and practical premium SUV that is proving to be popular in the UK with British sales of nearly 7,400 in 2021.
The Audi e-tron currently holds an Expert Rating of 71% on our industry-leading Expert Rating Index, with praise for its comfort levels. Other vehicles can go further between charges, however.
6. Hyundai Kona Electric
The compact Hyundai Kona Electric SUV was facelifted in 2021 and continues to be a competitive value-for-money package for those looking for their first family-sized EV.
The Kona has been praised for its impressive battery range and practicality. It currently holds an Expert Rating of 79%, which is slightly behind the closely-related Kia e-Niro.
7. Mini Electric
With just over 6,600 registrations in 2021, the all-electric version of the Mini hatchback is has been praised for its upmarket interior, but criticised for its underwhelming battery range.
Currently holding an Expert Rating of 63% on our industry-leading Expert Rating Index, the recently-facelifted Mini Electric has one full year of production left, with a new generation expected to arrive in 2023.
8. Renault Zoe
Offering an affordable entry to EV ownership, the Renault Zoe spent most of 2021 in the media’s good graces – until it was given an abysmal zero-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP in December.
In light of the Zoe’s low safety score, Renault’s urban EV is now impossible to recommend. It currently holds an Expert Rating of 62%, which has fallen considerably since the crash test results were published.
9. Vauxhall Corsa-e
The Vauxhall Corsa ended 2021 on top of the annual sales charts, with more than 40,000 registrations. However, the electric Corsa-e only made up around 5,600 of those sales, so Vauxhall will be hoping that it can attract more interest in its EV models in 2022.
The Vauxhall Corsa-e has received a mixed bag of reviews since its 2019 arrival, and currently holds an Expert Rating of 64% on our industry-leading Expert Rating Index.
10. MG ZS EV
Rounding off what has been another year of strong growth for MG, the affordable ZS EV takes the final place in the top ten EV best-sellers list.
Recently facelifted, the MG ZS EV currently holds an Expert Rating of 60%, which is the lowest score of any of the vehicles in the top ten.