According to an analysis from car retail platform Auto Trader, the sale of new electric vehicles (EVs) could overtake petrol and diesel sales in Britain by as early as 2025, whilst alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV) more broadly, could pass them even earlier, in 2024.
The analysis suggests that by 2025, EVs will account for around 10% of the total British car parc, and AFVs around 18%; by the time the government's ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars comes into effect in 2030, they're likely to represent as much as 30% and 40% respectively.
After the proposed ban on internal combustion engine (ICE) sales in 2030 and then hybrid sales in 2035, the analysis suggests it's likely that, if assuming typical scrappage rates and exclude the exception of classic or collector cars, ICE vehicles will almost disappear from the UK car parc by the mid-2040s.
Research conducted this week showed that as many as 24% of consumers surveyed on Auto Trader are considering buying an alternatively fuelled vehicle (AFV), which is up from 16% in November 2020, and 13% from as recently as August 2020. The same survey revealed that 33% of those considering an EV or hybrid as their next purchase, were directly influenced by the prime minister's announcement in November.
The levels of demand (based on searches and advert views on Auto Trader) for EVs increased by a massive 93% year-on-year (YoY) in November. Demand eased slightly in December, but remained high, increasing 78% YoY. In contrast, demand for petrol increased just 0.6% YoY last month, whilst diesel dropped -7.7%. The added level of consumer engagement through this period resulted in the number of new EV leads being sent to retailers growing 421% YoY and 413% in November and December respectively. EV leads in December accounted for as many as 11% of the total number of new car leads, up from just 4% recorded a year earlier.
Utilising Auto Trader's audience demographics tool, the profile of an EV 'intender' clearly differs to that of the average car buyer on Auto Trader, the publication says. They are typically older (33% are over 55, compared to just 23% of the Auto Trader average), more affluent (33% are in the +£75k income bracket, compared to 17% of the Auto Trader average), and live in wealthier postcodes, with the top five comprising: SW6, Fulham (16% above national average), NW3, Hampstead (+13%), M20, Didsbury (+10%), W4, Chiswick (+11%) and WA14, Hale (+10%).
In terms of which brands EV intenders are most interested in, Tesla remains the most desirable by some distance, accounting for 27% of electric car advert views in December, followed by Nissan (11%), Renault (8%), Volkswagen (8%), and BMW (7%).
Auto Trader's commercial director, Ian Plummer, said: "We've based our projections quite conservatively on the current trajectory of AFVs and ICE vehicles in the market, as well as the trends we're observing on our marketplace. Over the last few years we've seen consumer sentiment towards electric grow steadily, and whilst conversion from consideration to purchase remains relatively low, it is accelerating as the latest models become ever more attractive, while aspirational brands like Tesla help shift consumer perception. When they become more affordable and the required infrastructure improves, we're confident we'll see adoption levels increase significantly and rapidly."
The Auto Trader analysis is based on the current rate of adoption of new EVs and the subsequent impact on the car parc in Great Britain. It is also based on new diesel car sales declining to zero by 2026, and petrol's share of new car sales falling at a constant rate to zero by 2030.