Interest in electric vehicles in the UK soared by a factor of more than five in the 24 hours following news that the country will ban new petrol and diesel vehicle sales by 2030, according to a car sales site.
Before the Tory UK government confirmed it would bring the ban of new combustion car sales forward another five years from 2035 (which in itself was further forward than the original 2040 ban), one of the UK’s leading car sales sites said it got about 300 electric vehicle searches a day.
After the 2030 ban was announced, searches for electric vehicles shot up to 1,679 a day, the company said in a press release.
“It seems that the government’s announcement has really sparked renewed interest in electric vehicles, surging on our site by a magnitude of (narly) 500% literally overnight,” said Christofer Lloyd, editor of BuyaCar.co.uk, in a statement.
BuyaCar.co.uk currently lists used and “nearly new” cars, so the huge surge in interest shows the effect that policy aimed at encouraging EV adoption can have on both ends of the market.
More new electric vehicle sales will also, in time, mean more used electric vehicles will be available for those not in the market for new.
“It will be interesting to see if that appetite for electric cars is maintained,” says Lloyd – although he does not appear to hold a great deal of personal enthusiasm for clean transport.
“Meanwhile, the government has clearly realised that encouraging mass adoption of cars with zero emissions at the tailpipe, calls for drastic measures and our own experience of the sustained demand for diesels confirms it,” he says.
Lloyd notes that the site’s rate of sales for highly polluting used diesel vehicles, which would be banned after 2030, are between 31-40% of sales on the site, which is more than double that of 16.8% new diesel sales according to SMMT.
Used diesel sales will not be banned under the UK clean car resolutions.
In fact, sales of new petrol and diesel car vehicles have plummeted in the UK, as in Australia, in 2020.
Year-to-date, new diesel car sales have fallen by 56.3% and petrol car sales have fallen by 40.2%, according to the UK’s car registration reporting body SMMT.
By contrast, all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle sales currently account for around 8.8% – about 100,000 units – of new car sales in the UK each month, which sounds modest but is in fact a 250% increase compared to 2019.
The increase in sales can be attributed to the fact the UK is already incentivising UK drivers to choose electric vehicles through its maximum £3,000 ($A5,460) plug-in vehicle grant, and the introduction of ultra-low emissions zones in London.
This means that car makers also have more confidence to bring in more electric vehicle models, giving more choice to drivers as they are safe in the knowledge there is a solid, growing market.
To reach 100% EV sales by 2030 (which will also include plug-in hybrids until 2035) will mean 2 million electric cars will need to be supplied to the UK a year from the beginning of the next decade.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.