Sales Figures Show Electric Cars Are Surging Ahead in the UK 

Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

There’s an electric car revolution taking place in the UK, as years of infrastructure development and government incentives start to bear fruit. New sales figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders on Monday shows carbon-coughing gas guzzlers are on the way out, while electric cars like the Tesla Model X are paving the way for the future.

The alternative fuel vehicle segment — which covers all cars powered by something other than gasoline or diesel — increased by 19.9 percent year-over-year in January, accounting for 4.2 percent of the market. By comparison, gasoline car sales rose just 8.9 percent, while diesel sales actually decreased by 4.3 percent. In total, 7,279 alternative fuel cars were sold in the month.

There’s plenty of reasons why an electric car is an attractive purchase in the UK. The government offers grants towards new purchases, covering 35 percent of the cost of a car up to a maximum of either 2,500 ($3,091) or £4,500 ($5,564). The higher cap is granted to cars that produce less than 50 grams per kilometer of CO2 emissions and is capable of traveling at least 70 miles without producing any emissions. The Tesla Model S and Model X both satisfy the criteria.

The country also has a large number of chargers. Zap Map has 4,276 chargers in its nationwide database and counting. By comparison, there were 8,472 gas stations at the end of 2015. Nissan claimed in August that the number of electric chargers would bypass the number of fuel stations by 2020.

An electric car charging spot on a street in London.

Getty Images / Miles Willis

The infrastructure has even reached a point where London’s Metropolitan Police have spoken to Tesla CEO Elon Musk about using his company’s cars in the force. The police force is currently aiming to deploy 250 alternative energy vehicles over the coming year.

Companies are planning for the future to support this growing number of electric cars. Last week, Shell revealed it was planning to fit electric chargers in its UK gas stations. Although it seems like it would eat into the company’s profits, the plan is seen as a way to sell more snacks on the forecourt. The plan could help reduce fears about range anxiety, which would encourage even more Brits to switch over to electric.