Any lingering uncertainties that EVs would fail to capture the imagination of drivers, and start the biggest automotive industry revolution since the creation of the combustion engine, have now been consigned to history.
EVs are here and they’re here to stay. And, even though there are still reservations among some sections of drivers, and bridges still to cross in terms of manufacturing and charging infrastructure, the new dawn of electric cars and vans has truly arrived.
Latest motor industry figures show that 2021 was the best year ever for electric transport. More electric vehicles were registered last year than for the total of the previous five years, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Plug-in hybrid figures also rose, as did those for hybrids. Together they added up to more than 450,000 new vehicles – almost 28% of the total market – with some form of electrification joining the UK’s roads last year.
Tesla’s Model 3, the Kia e-Niro and Volkswagen’s ID.3 topped the BEV sales charts with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Volvo’s XC40 taking the top three plug-in hybrid sales spots.
With recent history now showing a big swing towards EVs, looking ahead it’s shaping up to produce more of the same. In the past 12 months, hybrid or fully electric cars have overtaken petrol and diesel models as most drivers’ expected next vehicle.
Recent research by car spares and repairs company Kwik-Fit showed that 37% of drivers said that their next vehicle would be a low emissions model, outstripping the 35% likely to opt for a diesel or petrol car. And more than a quarter of drivers (28%) are still considering their options and haven’t decided yet.
This compares with similar research a year earlier which showed 33% of drivers opting for a low emission EV or hybrid compared with 41% saying their next car would have a petrol or diesel engine.
Salary sacrifice provider Tusker says this shows a clear change in drivers’ needs and demands, with petrol and diesel cars ordered through its schemes being replaced by EVs and plug-in hybrids. This, the company claims, proves a changing mindset among drivers, some of whom were concerned about the initial cost of vehicle, availability of fast charging points and ‘range anxiety’.
These are all being replaced by more positive thoughts about pricing and the infrastructure, along with greater confidence about the affordability and convenience of a salary sacrifice scheme.
As more electric vehicles become available Tusker’s order book has shifted away from traditional petrol and diesel vehicles to EV and Ultra Low Emission Vehicles in just two years. In 2019, nine out of ten of the most popular vehicles they offered were petrol or diesel powered, with only one EV making the list. Now, however, the reverse is true.
This is not a knee-jerk reaction to fuel shortages or increasing pump prices, although these factors, plus the enormous media attention of last year’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, heightened awareness of electric cars as a viable option for most households.
“The shift in ordering behaviour away from petrol and diesel-powered vehicles, towards EVs has been rapid and conclusive,” says Paul Gilshan, CEO of Tusker.
“We have seen the rise in uptake of salary sacrifice schemes, alongside the continuation of low BIK rates that encourage drivers away from traditional fuel types and into affordable and environmentally friendly vehicles.”
So consumer demand has been steadily building over the last 18 months, matched by a rapidly increasing number of new EVs being offered by car manufacturers. With many more new models set to arrive in 2022, the pace of the UK’s motoring electrification will continue to accelerate.
The UK’s deadline of 2030 to end sales of new petrol and diesel cars once seemed to have been set too early. But now, the majority of car manufacturers will be offering huge ranges of electric vehicles long before that. Several have already announced dates for becoming EV-only, well before that deadline.
So, whether they’re thinking of buying outright, leasing or taking advantage of a salary sacrifice scheme, it’s clear that tens of thousands more UK drivers will be sitting behind the wheel of an electric-powered car of some kind in 2022 and into the next few years.