Electric Vehicle Makers Hitting Targets For Petrol-Free Car Sales In UK

Electric Vehicle Makers Hitting Targets For Petrol Free Car Sales In Uk

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By now, nobody should be fooled by headlines bleating about a nosedive in electric vehicle sales. However, another opportunity to debunk naysayers came into the CleanTechnica mailbox this morning, and we just could not resist.

Electric Vehicle Makers Hitting UK Targets For ICE Ban

The email came from the organization New AutoMotive, which credits itself with advocating for passage of the UK’s world-leading ban on internal combustion engines.

Under the new law, automakers are required to phase out sales of new cars with internal combustion engines in the UK by 2030, with a phaseout of hybrid vehicles to follow in 2035.

Sales of used non-EVs will still be permitted after 2030, but New AutoMotive points out that owning a used car with an internal combustion engine in the UK is becoming unwieldy and less attractive, partly due to local regulations prohibiting ICE vehicles in some areas.

The growing convenience of EV charging is another factor tamping down ICE sales. New AutoMotive notes that the combined number of public, home, and workplace EV charging stations is almost 15 times the number of fuel pumps in the UK.

New AutoMotive conducts a monthly census of auto sales in the UK, and its Electric Car Count figures for May indicate that the electric vehicle industry is on track to beat the 2030 ICE goal.

“Sales of electric vehicles (EV) reached 17.9% of the new vehicle market share in May, continuing best ever start to year,” New AutoMotive explained in a press statement. “The figure means that the EV market is continuing its best ever start to the year, with sales in the first five months of 2024 10% higher than the same period last year.”

So much for the nosedive in EV sales. The big question is whether or not the trend will continue. New AutoMotive votes yes, noting that “sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles have plummeted from 55% to 45% over the past 12 months.”

Under the assumption that the electric vehicle industry will sell an average of 1,800 units per month through the end of the year — and the drop in petrol and diesel sales continues — New AutoMotive calculates that the industry is on track to phase out ICE vehicles in 2029, slightly ahead of the 2030 deadline.

Who Is Buying All These New Electric Vehicles?

The emerging consensus among auto industry observers is that Tesla’s outsized influence on the global electric vehicle market skewed the overall figures for 2023, following a downward slide in sales for the company.

Other electric vehicle makers have made up the difference, with the UK being one example. New AutoMotive notes that BMW is on track to lead the UK in sales, replacing Tesla in the #1 slot.

In addition, Nissan (18%), Vauxhall (20%), and Peugeot (21%) all racked up record market shares in the UK in May.

As for who is buying electric vehicles, New AutoMotive CEO Ben Nelmes suggests that drivers who own diesel cars are moving straight up to electric drive rather than stepping sideways to gas.

“This month’s data tells a story not only of a growing market, but a maturing market with growing consumer choice as brands respond to the UK’s world-leading ZEV mandate,” Nelmes emphasized in a press statement.

New AutoMotive has also spotted another key trend in the electric vehicle market, based on vehicle registration data collected by the UK Department of Transport.

“There have been numerous news articles recently reporting a fall in the number of private individuals who are buying electric cars. Yet the data show that in 2023, private ownership of the cars had never been higher,” New AutoMotive observes.

Overall, they attribute the strong showing partly to tax policies that encourage companies to buy electric vehicles. “That caused a huge rise in the number of electric cars registered to private companies,” they explain. “As those vehicles age, companies will sell them into the used market, where private individuals can increasingly pick up a bargain EV.

“Companies are buying EVs when they’re new, and then selling them on a few years later,” New AutoMotive adds. “This system means that individual motorists aren’t bearing the depreciation costs of buying these vehicles new.”

“Commercial fleets, on the other hand, are footing a lot of the bill of Britain’s shift to EVs,” they emphasize.

One other factor to keep an eye on is the EV battery swapping trend, which is edging its way into Europe and other markets. As swapping-equipped EVs enter the used vehicle market, buyers could be attracted by the idea of getting a fresh battery on demand, regardless of the age of the vehicle.

A Used Electric Vehicle Is Coming For Your Fossil Fuels

The turbo-boosting role of fleet vehicles is also at work here in the US. Late last year the leading rental car firm Hertz made headlines when it ditched thousands of electric vehicles from its fleet, sending them straight to the used car market.

“You can go shopping for them right here,” CleanTechnica editor Zachary Shahan observed in March.

Fleet car or not, the used electric vehicle market is beginning to give ICE cars a run for the money. In its Q2 Used Electric Car Market Report, the research firm Recurrent noted that prices in the US continued to fall, “increasing accessibility for more buyers.”

“More than half of used EV sales are potentially eligible for a $4000 rebate,” they also note.

“Starting January 2024 people who buy qualified used electric cars from a dealership for less than $25,000 could be eligible for a tax credit of up to $4000,” elaborates Recurrent researcher Liz Najman.

Partly due to the availability of tax credits, Recurrent also anticipates that new electric vehicle prices, on average, will reach parity with ICE vehicles by the end of the year. “As of today, it is only $2000 more before factoring in any federal rebates,” they note.

The Rise of The Fleets

When CleanTechnica talks about fleet vehicles, much of that coverage involves the switchover of shipping fleets, from delivery vans like the Ford E-Transit on up to long distance electric tractor-trailers (or semis, if you prefer).

Along with Ford, GM’s BrightDrop got an early drop on the electric delivery van market. Government fleets like the US Postal Service are also helping to push the electric vehicle market along.

In terms of government fleets, we’re still waiting for the sleeping giant of the US Department of Defense to make the switch. So far the agency has barely dipped a toe in the EV waters.

However, there are plenty of non-combat roles to fill. The US Army Reserve, for example, has just launched a master plan for installing EV charging stations at multiple sites around the country, “to bridge the gap between planned EV fleets and the required charging infrastructure to support it.”

With a non-combat fleet of 170,000 vehicles, the Army could be the straw that breaks the ICE back, so stay tuned for more on that.

Photo (cropped): BMW is among the electric vehicle makers leading the charge to meet a 2030 ban on ICE sales in the UK (courtesy of BMW Group).

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