2018 Tesla Model 3 USA Driving

Tesla Model 3 was the UK's third most-popular car in August

No Tesla has ever featured in the UK top 10 charts before


THE TESLA Model 3 has made a surprise appearance in the UK’s top 10 sales charts for August — the pure-electric executive saloon outsold many of Britain’s perennial favourite new cars, including the Ford Focus and Nissan Qashqai.

According to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which represents the British motor industry, 2,082 vehicles registered last month were listed as “Other”. When asked what “Other” meant, an SMMT spokesperson told Driving.co.uk: “As the manufacturer chooses not to publish figures, we have to list it as ‘Other’”.

As Tesla is known not to publish its sales figures, Driving.co.uk contacted the company for comment. A spokesperson said: “While we don’t comment on sales figures, if you were to say Tesla Model 3 [was the car listed as “Other” by the SMMT], that wouldn’t be incorrect”.

Top 10 best-selling cars in the UK 2019 as of August 2019

The Tesla Model 3’s appearance in the top 10 charts for August is a notable one for the car maker, as it marks the first time a Tesla model has ever appeared in a monthly top 10 UK new car registrations list. It also means, in a month described by the SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes as “typically the new car market’s quietest”, the pure-electric premium saloon was ranked ahead of some of the UK’s most popular models, such as the Ford Focus five-door hatchback and Nissan Qashqai family SUV.

Tesla’s impressive performance with the Model 3 in the charts could also be explained by its long lead time and fairly recent arrival in the UK. The car officially went on sale in May 2019 though British buyers have been able to reserve one since the vehicle’s original reveal in March 2016; those early birds only began collecting the keys to their cars in June this year as right-hand drive models finally make it across the Pond.

The surge in Tesla registrations made August a particularly good month overall for pure-electric cars. A total of 3,147 “battery electric vehicles” were first registered on UK roads last month, which represents a mighty 377.5% increase over the same period last year.

While the Model 3 admittedly accounted for almost two thirds (66.2%) of those registrations, the remaining 1,065 electric car registrations would have been 62% up on the 659 pure-electric registrations made in August 2018.

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”.

Hawes went on to say, “While this is encouraging, these figures also show the scale of the challenge ahead. It’s a long road to zero,” a reference to the government’s strategy to ensure all new cars sold in the UK have “effectively zero” tailpipe emissions by 2040.

He added: “While manufacturers can deliver the technology, they can’t dictate the pace of uptake”.

Overall registration data for 2019 indicates many British motorists still aren’t ready yet to ditch their conventional petrol and diesel-powered cars. Of the 1.5m new cars registered in the UK this year so far, only 17,393 are pure-electric, and 114,063 are “alternatively fuelled vehicle”s (which includes hybrids, plug-in hybrids, pure-electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars).

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The UK’s top 10 best-selling cars of 2019 (updated)