Electric cars in facts, stats, and figures

Electric cars in facts, stats, and figures
Electric vehicles are here to stay. New petrol and diesel cars will no longer be sold in the UK after 2030, so there are plenty of reasons to take the plunge and drive a cleaner car.

EVs offer lots of benefits, including lower running costs, a relaxed driving experience and less local pollution – but they are hardly a new idea. 

Read on to find out more about the wonderful world of electric vehicles.

Electric cars are nothing new

You may think the buzz around EVs is a recent phenomenon. In fact, electric cars were driving silently around our streets as far back as 1837. However, in these early days, non-rechargeable batteries hampered their practicality.

Rechargeable batteries arrived around 1881, and it was thought the UK would take up EVs soon afterwards, when the London Electrical Cab Company unveiled the Bersey taxi. Sadly, it was expensive to run and unreliable, damaging its reputation and torpedoing any chance of success.

Development of EVs continued over the following decades, but it wasn’t until the launch of the Tesla Model S in 2012 when the world once again began to take EVs seriously.1

The Nissan LEAF was the world’s first ‘mass market’ EV

The Nissan LEAF holds the honour of being the first ‘mass market’ electric car. Launched in 2010, within a decade there were more than 500,000 examples of Nissan’s electric hatchback on the world’s roads, with over 180,000 of those registered in Europe. 

The LEAF was the first EV to pass the 400,000 registrations milestone and Nissan also reports that, up to the end of December 2020, all those LEAFs contributed to 2.5 million fewer tonnes of CO2 entering the environment.

Read our review of the Nissan LEAF

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The world’s most popular EV is a Tesla

Tesla could be credited with kick-starting the modern EV revolution thanks to its popular Model S.

However, the more affordable Model 3 is now proving a bigger hit with EV drivers. In 2021, it was the most popular electric car in the world, with just over 501,000 examples finding new homes.2

Read our review of the Tesla Model 3

Global electric car registrations 2021

Despite challenging world conditions, more than 6.6 million electric cars were registered in 2021.3 That’s more than twice the 2020 total of three million, the increase representing a nine percent total share of the global car market. 

China was the world leader in EV sales. A massive 3.4 million electric vehicles were registered there during 2021. Europe’s total of 2.3 million new EVs was up 70 percent on 2021, with Germany being the biggest market.

Registrations in the US exceeded 500,000 cars.3

UK electric car registrations 2022

From January to July 2022, 127,492 electric vehicles – not including hybrids (HEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) – have been registered in the UK, compared to 85,032 for the same period in 2021. This is an increase of 49.9 percent, and EVs now account for 13.9 percent of UK new vehicle registrations.4

The most popular EVs in the UK during 2021 included the Tesla Model 3, Kia e-Niro, Volkswagen ID.3 and the Nissan LEAF. For the latest electric and hybrid car reviews, visit the RAC’s comprehensive road test library here.4

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UK electric car charging points 2022

According to EV charging website Zap-Map, there were a total of 33,281 electric car chargers in the UK up to July 2022. Compared to the number in July 2021, this is a 35 percent increase, and the chargers are spread over 20,336 locations, with a total number of 54,779 connectors.5

It’s worth noting that these figures do not include charge points installed at drivers’ homes or at workplaces, of which there are estimated to be more than 400,000. A selected number of these will be available for public charging purposes.

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Join the RAC and get breakdown cover. Our patrols fix 4 out of 5 vehicles on the spot, with repairs done in just 30 minutes on average.

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If you like EVs, make some noise

On 1 July 2019, EU legislation was introduced stating that all electric and hybrid electric vehicles must emit a specified level of noise when they are running below 12mph (20km/h). 

A sound generator must be installed on every new four-wheeled EV. This must release a sound of least 56 decibels, and the noise must be able to be deactivated by the driver. The acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS) regulations were introduced primarily to help other road users such as cyclists, pedestrians and the visually impaired know when an EV or hybrid is approaching.

Electric vehicles have clever tech

Unlike most petrol or diesel vehicles, electric cars are packed with innovative technology to save precious energy and help you go further. Regenerative braking systems help recover kinetic energy under deceleration, sending it back to charge the car’s battery, and potentially boosting range.

EVs can also be pre-conditioned, which helps to preserve range. This is done by pre-heating or pre-cooling the car’s interior before any journey begins. Usually accessed by a smartphone app connected to the car or by the on-board infotainment system, the car’s driving range will not only be maximised, but its battery life could be lengthened as well. If the car is plugged in and charging, it takes power from the mains supply – so there is no impact on the range available.

Read our guide on electric car range and how far you can drive in an EV.

Electric cars can earn you money

Not only do EVs have on-board technology to save range, but they can also feed power back into the electricity grid to potentially earn you money. Using Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) charging, an EV can feed electricity back into the power grid. This can cut costs for EV drivers and fleet companies as they can charge their electric cars using cheaper energy. 

When an EV uses V2G technology, electricity flows in both directions, to and from its battery. The energy that is stored in the battery can be sold back to the grid later when demand for power is high. If the EV is charged when energy demand is lower, or the level of generation by renewable sources is high, V2G can also help reduce carbon emissions. Nissan has helped pioneer the technology in the UK.6

Fastest electric cars 2022

The instant and powerful torque of EVs makes them as fast as many conventional sports cars with internal combustion engines (ICE). The pace of development and improvement is almost as quick, too. The fastest road-legal EV of all is the Rimac Nevera hypercar. It offers a huge 1,914PS and blasts to 62mph in less than two seconds. If you have access to a private test track with a long enough straight, it will reach 258mph. 

However, you don’t have to have the almost £2 million – the price of the Nevera – burning a hole in your pocket to secure a fast EV. And the Rimac only seats two people anyway.

For a more practical alternative, the five-seat Audi RS e-tron GT gets from 0-62mph in 3.3 seconds, while the BMW i4 M50 is only 0.5 seconds slower. If you want more, the Porsche Taycan Turbo S rockets to 62mph from rest in 2.8 seconds, and the Tesla Model S Plaid is only a shade slower than the Rimac – hitting the benchmark in just 1.99 seconds. Not bad for a family car with a potential 396-mile range.

Read our guide to the fastest electric cars 2022.

The RAC is leading the way when it comes to supporting drivers in the switch to electric vehicles.

A growing number of our patrol vans have built-in emergency mobile charging systems that can give an out-of-charge electric car enough power to be driven a short distance home or to a working charge point.

Find out more about RAC EV Boost.​

Our All-Wheels-Up recovery system also allows our patrols to rescue electric cars safely with no need for a flatbed. Find out more about RAC Electric Car Breakdown Cover.

RAC Breakdown Cover

Join the RAC and get breakdown cover. Our patrols fix 4 out of 5 vehicles on the spot, with repairs done in just 30 minutes on average.

RAC Breakdown Cover
RAC Breakdown Cover