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The UK’s best-selling electric cars of 2022

The Tesla Model Y was the UK's best-selling electric car in 2022, as annual EV sales surpassed diesel registrations for the first time

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As 2023 begins, things are looking up for the electric car market. More zero-emission options are available than ever before, electric vehicle (EV) demand is on the rise, and Tesla is fast becoming one of the most popular car brands in the UK.

Despite persistent supply issues and growing cost of living concerns, close to 270,000 electric cars were sold in Britain last year, according to data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). After a harsh decline in diesel sales, battery power is now only second to petrol, which still accounts for 42% of all new registrations.

EV sales rose by 40% in 2022 – a sales surge led by fleet owners and business buyers who bought two-thirds of these new cars. Their model of choice? The Tesla Model Y, which outsold all other EVs on the market by a considerable margin, with another 15,000 more registrations than 2021’s best-selling electric car, the Tesla Model 3.

Tesla continues to be the brand that the majority of UK buyers turn to when they are interested in making the all-electric switch, but other manufacturers from across the industry also recorded impressive EV sales figures last year as they continue to introduce more innovative and affordable electric cars to the market.

Highlighted for their value-for-money, the recently-retired Kia e-Niro and increasingly popular MG 5 made the annual top ten, as did the British-built Mini Electric and the ageing but capable Nissan Leaf. The Volkswagen ID.3 was the best-selling EV from a European brand, and in the premium sector, the Polestar 2, BMW i4 and Audi Q4 e-tron also sold well in the UK.

The SMMT says it is encouraged by this all-electric sales success, but adds that there is plenty more to be done to increase consumer confidence and convenience – ensuring that EV demand remains high and growth continues as the 2030 electric-only regulations edge ever closer.

The government’s EV infrastructure plan estimates that Britain will require between 300,000 and 720,000 charge points by 2030. To meet even the lower target, the SMMT claims that more than 100 new chargers will have to be installed every single day. At the moment, around 23 new charging stations are being installed nationwide on a daily basis.

Sales results for each car manufacturer (and even for each model range) continued to be defined by supply factors, as car companies battle component shortages – a hangover of the Covid situation from the last two years and supply problems resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Things have been improving in recent months, so hopefully that will carry forward into 2023. Mind you, with China facing a fresh Covid meltdown, the rollercoaster may well carry on for a while yet…

Looking for a new electric car? The best new electric cars for every budget 2022

Top ten best all-electric sellers, 2022

1Tesla Model Y35,551
2Tesla Model 319,701
3Kia e-Niro11,197
4Volkswagen ID.39,832
5Nissan Leaf9,178
6Mini Electric7,425
7Polestar 27,345
8MG 57,030
9BMW i46,699
10Audi Q4 e-tron6,594
Source: SMMT
Tesla Model Y – UK's best-selling electric car in 2022
Tesla Model Y

Britain’s best-selling cars of 2022

1. Tesla Model Y

The Tesla Model Y was Britain’s best-selling electric car in 2022, as well as finishing third in the overall sales charts. With over 35,000 models sold throughout last year, almost half of its registrations were made in the last two months of the year, with 10,000 units shifted in December alone.

The Model Y has received a positive media reception here in the UK, commended for its innovative on-board tech and punchy performance. The SUV holds a solid Expert Rating of 79%.

2. Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

The UK’s best-selling EV in 2021, has had to take a backseat to its newer and more popular Model Y sibling in 2022, but still sold in impressive numbers, out-selling the third place Kia e-Niro by over 8,000 models.

The Model 3 holds an impressive Expert Rating of 86%, a score helped by its performance, driving dynamics and minimalist style, but hindered by its rather rigid ride comfort, steep price tag, and questionable long term reliability.

3. Kia e-Niro

The Kia e-Niro was only on sale for three years, but was very popular with both reviewers and consumers. Now put out to pasture, making way for the new Kia Niro EV that arrived last Summer, this model still managed to rack up over 11,000 sales, taking third in the 2022 list of EV best-sellers.

Praised for its comfort and practicality, the e-Niro holds an Expert Rating of 85%, which is better than its all-new replacement.

4. Volkswagen ID.3

A serial award winner, the ID.3 hatchback is unanimously considered to be one of the leading examples of the emerging electric car era. The best-selling all-electric hatchback on this list, the ID.3 is regarded as one of the safest and most comfortable models in its class.

Despite receiving consistent criticism for its confusing and fiddly infotainment system, the Volkswagen ID.3 holds an Expert Rating of 75% – a score that is also aided by the car’s strong resale values and low running costs.

5. Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf (2018) front view | The Car Expert

The Nissan Leaf continues to be one of the most popular electric cars around the world and, considering its value-for-money, it’s not that hard to see why.

The Nissan Leaf holds an Expert Rating of 68%, with reviewers commending its leisurely driving experience and low running costs. That said, although the Leaf certainly gives you a lot of car for your money, its battery range is less than many newer EV alternatives.

6. Mini Electric

The electric version of the current Mini three-door hatch, the Mini Electric has been selling in consistent numbers ever since its arrival in 2020, and was the best-selling British-built electric car last year.

However, the Mini isn’t quite as popular with motoring media. Holding an Expert Rating of 63%, the hatchback has been criticised by reviewers for its relatively poor range compared to similarly-priced electric cars. That said, it has been praised for its fun driving experience and well-built interior.

7. Polestar 2

Premium brand Polestar only sells one model, but it is certainly a sales success. The Polestar 2 may not have been able to match the sales numbers of the class-leading Tesla Model 3, but still mustered a strong sales performance that trumped EV rivals like the BMW i4 and Kia EV6.

The Polestar holds an Expert Rating of 75%, praised for its upmarket design inside and out, its solid build quality and competitive battery range. However, if you are interested in this car, keep in mind that may have to keep explaining what a Polestar is…

8. MG 5

British manufacturer MG has been on a roll in recent years, undercutting rivals by offering affordable and capable cars that are cheap to run on the daily. Its foray into the electric market has been just as successful.

One of the only all-electric estate cars on the market, the MG 5 holds an Expert Rating of 63%, and is known as a great value-for-money package with a respectable battery range. Its rivals do have a higher interior quality though, and reviewers comment that it’s not that engaging to drive either.

9. BMW i4

BMW’s answer to the Tesla Model 3, the i4 is the all-electric equivalent of the 4 Series Gran Coupe – praised for its intuitive on-board tech, its competitive battery range and its agile driving dynamics.

That said, some outlets conclude that this all-electric saloon is not as enjoyable to drive as its combustion-powered equivalent, and rivals offer more cabin space in the rear too. The i4 holds an Expert Rating of 84%.

10. Audi Q4 e-tron

Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback (2021 onwards) - front view

Roomy and practical, the Audi Q4 e-tron takes the final spot in this top ten best-sellers list, outselling key rivals like the Volkswagen ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq.

The Q4 holds an Expert Rating of 74% – commended for its high levels of build quality, as well as its comfortable roomy cabin. On the other hand, some reviewers argue that it is rather bland to drive, and while entry-level models are competitively priced, they come with a comparatively short battery range.


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Sean Rees
Sean Rees
Sean is the Deputy Editor at The Car Expert. A enthusiastic fan of motorsport and all things automotive, he is accredited by the Professional Publishers Association, and is now focused on helping those in car-buying need with independent and impartial advice.