It’s quite possible that we’ll look back on 2021 as the year that Brits starting to take electric cars seriously.
Pure EVs accounted for one in nine sales, with more registered in 2021 than the previous five years combined.
In all, a record-breaking 190,727 new EVs joined Britain’s roads, along with 114,554 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), meaning 18.5% of all new cars registered in 2021 can be plugged in.
What’s more, pure electric cars even outsold diesel cars in the UK during 2021. As recently as 2017, diesel cars sales accounted for 43.5% of the total new car market – now the diesel share is just 14.2%.
1) Tesla Model 3 – 34,783 registrations
The most affordable model in the Tesla range has made a huge impact since its launch in 2020. Not only is it the most popular new EV of 2021, but sensationally, it was the second biggest-selling car in the overall UK top 10, just behind the Vauxhall Corsa.
Cleverly designed inside and out, this BMW 3 Series-sized saloon has a range of up to 360 miles and is a joy to drive. Swift, smooth and agile, the fastest ‘Performance’ version can hit 60mph from standstill in just 3.1 seconds!
2) Kia e-Niro – 12,271 registrations
One of the most affordable long-range EVs on the market, the e-Niro has the flexibility of a crossover and is capable of up to 282 miles on a full charge.
Easy to drive, spacious, practical, well-equipped and packed with safety features, it also comes with Kia’s generous seven-year warranty and reputation for dependability, making it an impressive eco-friendly daily driver.
3) Volkswagen ID.3 – 11,032 registrations
VW must be pleased with the futuristic ID.3’s first year on sale in the UK. Slightly shorter, yet wider and taller than the latest Golf, it’s futuristically designed and offers plenty of space inside and a useful boot capacity.
Affordable, safe and smooth, it’s available with three different sizes of battery (offering ranges of up to 340 miles) and it can be charged from 5-80% in just 35 minutes using a rapid 100kW charge point.
4) Nissan Leaf – 9,052 registrations
The pioneering British-built Nissan Leaf is still selling well, despite a rapidly increasing number of rivals.
Practical, pleasant to drive and competitively priced, a Leaf takes around 7.5 hours to fully charge overnight using a 7kWh home charger, or as little as 60 minutes to get to 80% via a 50KW fast charger. The flagship 62kWh battery version has a decent range of up to 239 miles.
5) Audi E-tron – 7,396 registrations
Audi’s first ever fully electric SUV boasts excellent build quality, brisk performance (it can sprint from 0-62mph in as little 5.7 seconds), a gorgeous interior and a range of up to 252 miles.
Also available as a sleek ‘Sportback’, the e-tron is an impressive blend of power, practicality, luxury and driving pleasure. Opt for a quattro model and you get genuine off-road ability too.
6) Hyundai Kona Electric – 7,199 registrations
Refreshed during 2021, Hyundai’s boldly styled crossover is another affordable EV crossover with a long range (up to 300 miles).
Spacious, safe and delivering a refined drive, it offers peace of mind too because it comes with a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty, plus eight-year/125,000-mile battery cover.
7) MINI Electric – 6,615 registrations
If your priority is driving enjoyment over long range, then the first fully electric vehicle from MINI could be right up your street. Just as nippy as its petrol-powered siblings, this funky three-door is fast (0-62mph in 7.3 seconds) and offers premium build quality.
In theory it’s possible to travel up to 145 miles on a full charge, but if you have to go further, it can be charged from 0-80% via a fast charger (50KW) in as little as 36 minutes.
8) Renault Zoe – 5,778 registrations
Not so long ago the Zoe was Europe’s best-selling electric vehicle, with the cute supermini end of the market all to itself. Now it’s facing tough competition, but the good news is that the latest Zoe is better than ever and is hanging in there with its winning combination of value for money and zippy performance.
There are two sizes of electric motor (different power outputs) offering a claimed range of up to 245 miles.
Around 90 miles of driving range can be added in as little as 30 minutes via a 50kW public charge point.
9) Vauxhall Corsa-e – 5,605 registrations
The Vauxhall Corsa was Britain’s best-selling car overall in 2021. Available with petrol and diesel engines, there’s also an all-electric version (badged Corsa-e), which is a great little package.
Easy to drive, surprisingly spacious and competitively priced, it has a useful range of up to 209 miles. Naturally, there’s instant torque too, delivering 0-60mph in just 7.6 seconds.
What’s more, it can be charged to 80% (adding 168 miles) in just 30 minutes via a 100kW rapid charger or overnight at home using a wall box.
10) MG ZS EV – 5,380 registrations
Treated to a facelift in 2021, MG’s electric crossover offers serious value for money. Stylish, simple to drive, well equipped, and with room for five, it has a claimed range of up to 273 miles and can be charged up to 80% using a 50KW public chargepoint in just over an hour.
Add MG’s generous seven-year/80,000-mile warranty and it’s no wonder the ZS EV is becoming a common sight on our roads.
I’m an experienced journalist, digital editor and copywriter, now specialising in motoring. I’m editor of Automotive Blog and have worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online for household names including the BBC, GMTV, ITV and MSN. I’ve produced digital content in the financial sector for Lloyds Bank, Nationwide and the Money Advice Service. I’m married with two children and live near Bath in Somerset.