Tesla’s electric Model 3 overtook the Ford Focus to become the UK’s third-best selling car last month, industry figures have revealed.
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), more than 2,000 new Model 3s were driven off forecourts in August, bettered only by Ford’s Fiesta and Volkswagen’s Golf for popularity.
Figures also show that electric car registrations surged fivefold last month to take a record 3.4 per cent market share.
But overall demand for new vehicles fell as new diesel and plug-in hybrid registrations continued to fall.
In August, the SMMT reports that 3,978 Fiestas were driven off by new owners, compared with 3,439 Golfs and 2,082 “other” models
Tesla does not publish what it calls “regional sales figures” and is not a member of the SMMT, so its UK Model 3 sales were recorded as “other” in the trade group’s monthly breakdown of popular models.
Elon Musk, one of Tesla’s co-founders, said that he hoped the Model 3 would be an affordable electric vehicle (EV) option for many buyers. The US firm is aiming to sell 500,000 of the model annually by 2020.
Meanwhile, the market for battery-powered electric vehicles grew by 377.5 per cent, with 3,147 electric models registered in August compared to a year prior.
The SMMT said that “exciting new powertrain technologies” could come to market in the next few months, extending the range of EVs available to buy even further.
Demand for new cars fell by 1.6 per cent, with 92,573 new cars registered in August compared with 94,094 during the same month in 2018.
It marks the sixth consecutive month of decline as demand for diesel models dropped 12.2 per cent and for plug-in hybrids by 71.8 per cent.
Government grants for new low-emission cars were slashed in October last year, with hybrid models no longer eligible for the scheme.
Motoring groups warned that the change would leave the UK struggling to meet targets to reduce vehicle emissions.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “August is typically the new car market’s quietest month so the huge increase in EV registrations is very visible but especially welcome.
“It’s great to see consumers respond to the massive industry investment made over many years.
“To support a smooth transition and deliver environmental gains now, we need a long-term Government commitment to measures that give consumers confidence to invest in the latest technologies that best suit their needs.”
Private and fleet registrations fell 3.0 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively last month, while the smaller business market was down 34.7 per cent.