It’s the second time the Tesla Model 3 electric car has led the UK market in a given month, however it ranks outside of the Top 10 for the full year.
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The Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle has seemingly done the unthinkable and topped the UK new-car sales charts in December 2020 – outselling the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Fiesta for the month.

It is the second time the Tesla Model 3 has led the UK new-car sales race in a given month.

The first time was in April 2020 when the market plummeted by 97 per cent; Tesla won the sales race with just 658 vehicles reported as sold.

However, despite the popularity of electric cars in the UK – where 100 electrified vehicles, ranging from full electric to hybrids were introduced last year – Tesla as a brand remained well outside the Top 10 for the full year.

It is believed the Tesla Model 3 posted the latest UK sales victory after a glut of cars arrived to fill orders placed earlier in the year.

Sales figures published by UK statisticians show 5798 Tesla Model 3 sedans were reported as sold in December 2020, ahead of 4470 VW Golf and 3367 Ford Fiesta hatchbacks. The pure electric Volkswagen ID3 finished the month in fourth place.

However, for the full year, traditional hatchbacks such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa, Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Mercedes A-Class rounded out the Top Five cars.

New-car sales in Australia were down by 13.7 per cent in 2020 versus 2019 – after posting two months of growth in November and December – and fell to their lowest annual tally since 2003.

However, the UK has been hit harder by the coronavirus crisis, with annual sales down by 29.4 per cent, from 2,311,149 in 2019 to 1,631,064 in 2020 – the lowest annual volume of new-car registrations in the UK since 1992.

Despite the sharp downturn, sales of pure electric cars almost tripled in the UK last year – from 37,850 reported as sold in 2019 to 108,205 in 2020.

Above: The UK's Top 10 cars for December 2020 and full year 2020. Source: SMMT.

In a market of 1.6 million vehicles, electric cars represented 6.6 per cent of overall demand in the UK in 2020.

By comparison, just 1769 electric cars were reported as sold in Australia in 2020 (in a market of 916,000 new vehicles, representing 0.2 per cent of the market).

The Australian sales figures, however, exclude Tesla which does not supply data locally.

The Tesla Model 3 victory in December in the UK comes as Tesla built more than 509,000 cars and sold 499,550 globally last year, a new record for the brand.

YearTesla global sales, change from prior yearVehicles produced
2020499,550, up 36 per centModel S, Model X, Model 3, Model Y
2019367,500, up 50 per centModel S, Model X, Model 3
2018245,240, up 138 per centModel S, Model X, Model 3
2017103,120, up 35 per centModel S, Model X, Model 3
201676,230, up 51 per centModel S, Model X
201550,557, up 60 per centModel S
201431,655, up 41 per centModel S
201322,477, up 625 per centModel S
20123100Model S, Roadster (2008 to 2012)