More new battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were registered in 2021 than the last five years combined, according to the latest new car data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The latest figures show 190,727 new BEVs joined Britain’s roads last year, along with 114,554 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), meaning 18.5% of all new cars registered in 2021 can be plugged in.
This is in addition to the 147,246 hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) registered which took a further 8.9% market share in a bumper year for electrified car registrations, with 27.5% of the total market now electrified in some form.
The growth in plug-in vehicles was against a backdrop of 1% growth in new cars overall in 2021 due to the pandemic and continuing semi-conductor shortages, which is still affecting new car production around the world.
Diesel registrations saw the biggest drop, falling by almost 50% last year. Petrol registrations fell by nearly 16%.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "It’s been another desperately disappointing year for the car industry as Covid continues to cast a pall over any recovery.
"Manufacturers continue to battle myriad challenges, with tougher trading arrangements, accelerating technology shifts and, above all, the global semiconductor shortage which is decimating supply.
"Despite the challenges, the undeniable bright spot is the growth in electric car uptake.
"A record-breaking year for the cleanest, greenest vehicles is testament to the investment made by the industry over the past decade and the inherent attractiveness of the technology.
"The models are there, with two of every five new car models now able to be plugged in, drivers have the widest choice ever and industry is working hard to overcome Covid-related supply constraints."
Hawes said the biggest obstacle to net zero ambitions is not product available, but cost and charging infrastructure.
He added that recent cuts to incentives and home charging grants should be reversed.
Hawes said: "We need to boost the roll out of public on-street charging with mandated targets, providing every driver, wherever they live, with the assurance they can charge where they want and when they want."