Declining Appetite Among Private Buyers for EVs Raises Concerns in the Car Industry

The sales of electric vehicles (EVs) to fleet customers are booming, but private buyers are showing less interest in transitioning to battery-powered cars. The shift is causing car manufacturers to call for more financial incentives and an improved charging infrastructure in the UK.

Only 25% of new EVs are sold to private motorists today, compared to 33% in the same period last year. This declining trend among private buyers is worrying for car makers, who may face fines if they fail to sell a sufficient number of zero-emission vehicles as a percentage of their overall sales volumes. The government has committed to implementing a policy mandating zero tailpipe-emission vehicle sales from January 2024, but legislation specifying the penalties has yet to be enacted.

A recent survey by the Society of Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that 68% of non-EV drivers express a desire to switch to an EV. However, the lack of financial incentives and concerns about the limitations of the UK’s charger network are causing potential buyers to delay their decisions. Only 2% of respondents plan to switch to EVs this year, with 17% planning to do so in 2024. Most respondents believe it will not be until 2026 or later.

The SMMT survey found that the acceleration of EV adoption among private buyers hinges on two factors: the availability of financial incentives and improvements in the public charging infrastructure. Since the removal of the Plug-in Car Grant in 2022, the UK is the only major European market without taxpayer-backed incentives to support EV sales, despite having the most ambitious timeline to end sales of internal combustion-engined cars.

Industry experts, including representatives from VW Group UK, Toyota GB, and Ford of Europe, have voiced their support for government action to incentivize EV sales. They have also called for greater clarity on the proposed legislation surrounding the zero emissions mandate and for a legally-binding mandate on the minimum number of charger installations.

In order to drive EV adoption among private buyers, it is crucial for the government to provide financial incentives and improve the charging infrastructure. With the right incentives in place, more private buyers can make the switch to electric vehicles, contributing to a greener and more sustainable future for the UK.

– Society of Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)
– Auto Express