BMW poised to overtake Tesla as electric car sales climb in May

Tristan Young

5 Jun 2024

New electric vehicle sales climbed 6.2% in May, according to the latest official figures from the SMMT. The rise outperformed the overall market, which grew 1.7% over the same month last year. As a result the market share for electric cars rose to 17.6%, up from 16.9% last year. 

The growth in electric was driven by company car sales which were up 10.7%. Private electric car sales, however, fell 2.0% in May.Over the first five months of 2024, electric cars now account for 16.1% of the new car market, up from 15.7% a year ago. 

Among the interesting monthly stats is data from electric car lobbying group New Automotive, which shows BMW is likely to soon overtake Tesla as the most popular electric brand. It claims BMW was only 87 units behind Tesla for May. New Automotive’s rolling 12 month figures show that after Tesla and BMW, MG was the third best-selling electric brand followed by Audi and Mercedes.

In terms of individual brands, Tesla continues to have a poor 2024. While it’s May was only down 8.4%, for the year-to-date it’s down 12.6%. Polestar is also underperforming – down nearly 70% in May and more than 60% down for the year – however, the all-electric brand is on the verge of launching several new models which are likely to boost registrations in the second half of 2024. ​

Plug-in hybrids are doing even better than electric in terms of growth with a rise of 31.5% so far this year and now account for 7.9% of the market, up from 6.4% a year ago. 

While a lack of government incentives to help private buyers purchase electric car has been blamed for the contrast between the booming fleet market which has significant tax breaks to go electric, retailers who have spoken to in the past few days have added that car manufacturer offers have been inconsistent. This lack of consistency has made it difficult for dealers to attract buyers with clear offers to go electric. One dealer added that when electric car offers are clear and obvious to customers, they are able to sell to private buyers. 

Tesla is having a poor 2024 and risks being overtaken by BMW

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