EV Adoption in UK Still too Slow to Meet ICE Ban

UK consumers are not switching to BEVs quick enough to meet the government’s brought-forward deadline to ban the sales of new ICE powered vehicles by 2030.

A study by automotive car sales marketplace, Auto Trader, suggests the pace of BEV uptake remains too slow to meet the deadline raising the specter of new car sales falling-off-a-cliff coupled with a huge rise in second-hand ICE vehicle prices as consumers scramble to buy the last of the fossil-fuel models. While recognizing a significant growth in consumer demand for EVs, the study claims the vehicles will need to account for approximately 11% of all new car registrations in 2021 and 54% in 2026.

However, current year-to-date market share lags behind the required pace of growth at just 8.4%. The scale of the future challenge becomes even starker given that the country will need to record a near seven-fold increase in the next five years to get back on track.

Also behavioral analysis of car buyers on the Auto Trader website suggests that three-in-four currently look at EVs with low intent. In fact, the conversion rate for an electric search on the site to proactively engaging with a retailer is half that of an ICE vehicle. Curiosity and interest are yet to consistently translate into sales.

The study says adoption is being hampered by a number of key factors, not least the level of available choice. While there has been an increase in the number of new EV models available on the UK market as well as advertised on the website, up from about 20 in August 2019 to 58 today, there remains a considerable mismatch between the cars that are available, and the budget consumers wish to spend. For new ICE vehicles, 25% of the recorded demand is for cars priced below £20,000. Yet, there are currently just four new EV models available on Auto Trader that fit within this category.

The average retail price of a new volume brand electric hatchback is circa 75% more expensive than an ICE equivalent, whilst a volume brand SUV is 25% more. It’s not limited to just new cars either – on average, the current cost of a second-hand volume brand electric hatchback is around 27% more expensive than a used ICE equivalent and 39% for a premium model.

Further research shows that early BEV adopters are more likely to have off street parking options and to have more than one car in their household. Beyond price, the usual obstacles of range and lack of on street charging infrastructure continue to contribute to a slow pace of BEV take-up.

Ian Plummer, Auto Trader’s commercial director, commented: “We’re seeing more choice, and significantly more advertising and marketing spend from manufacturers promoting electric models, and as a result, we’re seeing more sales too. However, in the context of 2030, the market isn’t where it needs to be and we’re going to need a greater commitment from the government and all of us within the industry to inject much needed pace into its Road to Zero race. Key to this will be focus on the three I’s: more incentives, more investment, and more information, all of which we believe will be critical to make both new and used electric vehicles a genuinely viable option for mainstream buyers.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *