Tesla’s Model 3 was the best-selling car in Britain last month, the first time in history an electric vehicle has ever topped the country’s new car sales chart. The second best-seller for the month was another EV, Jaguar’s I-Pace—and Nissan’s Leaf also earned a place in the top 10. In total, electric vehicles comprised almost one-third of total new car sales in Britain in April 2020. And yet, the unprecedented increase in electric vehicle market share is not quite as game-changing as it seems.
Tesla’s success has come in a month when overall new vehicle sales in Britain crashed a staggering 97 percent as the country went into Covid-19 lockdown. Tesla sold 658 Model 3s, Jaguar 367 I-Paces, and Nissan just 72 Leafs to earn their places among the country’s top 10 sellers. Elsewhere, Tesla is still delivering cars throughout the health crisis, albeit with modified delivery methods.
Even though the Model 3 previously made Britain’s top 10 list, the April sales figure is believed to have been largely the result of fulfilments of pre-lockdown orders taken online. The I-Pace number is likely to be the result of a deal announced earlier to lease 700 of the electric Jaguars to the National Health Service.
New vehicle sales across Britain in April totaled just 4321 units, the lowest figure since 1946. The Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders, the industry body that tracks vehicle sales in the country said deliveries to company fleets accounted for 70 percent of the month’s total sales. So, Tesla made history—but it took historic market factors to make that possible.
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