Despite the pandemic, more than twice the number of battery electric vehicles have so far been leased this year compared to the whole of 2019 while fewer than half the number of diesel cars were sold or leased this year, RAC analysis of new industry data shows.
Between January and November 2020, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 86,291 pure electric cars were registered, up from 37,850 during the whole of 2019. Diesel sales, while still substantially higher, fell sharply over the same period – down 58%, from 583,488 in 2019 to just 246,389 so far this year.
Compared to November 2019, sales of battery electric cars more than doubled last month – from 4,652 to 10,345 (122% increase). Sales of battery electrics represented 5.8% of all vehicles registered in 2020 compared to 1.6% last year. The RAC estimates that since 2010 a total of 185,137 pure electric cars have been registered for use on the UK’s roads, along with 223,384 plug-in hybrid cars.
When looking at battery electric and plug-in hybrid sales together, a similarly striking picture emerges. November saw more plug-in electrified vehicles sold than diesel ones (18,062 compared to 15,925). This is the first month this has happened, excluding April 2020 when dealer activity all but ceased as a result of the first coronavirus restrictions.
RAC data insight spokesman Rod Dennis said:
“We may well now be reaching a watershed moment when it comes to new car sales in the UK – taking the anomalous month of April aside when dealers were forced to shut because of the pandemic, November saw more plug-in cars registered than diesel cars. The rise in demand for plug-in electrified vehicles appears to partly be taking place at petrol and diesel’s expense, with the latter as a result of concerns over harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions.
“As we move beyond the pandemic, 2021 is set to be a critically important year when it comes to understanding the appetite drivers have for ‘going electric’. With more electric cars coming onto the market, it will be interesting to see if this rise in sales will be sustained or whether the negative economic outlook has the unfortunate effect of quelling demand.
“The rise in the number of battery electric cars on our roads is also now beginning to translate into more breakdowns for our patrols to deal with. Fortunately, we are well positioned to cope with this demand as 80 of our patrol vans are now fitted with lightweight mobile charging units for drivers who reach a faulty charge point or who run out of charge for any other reason. In the event an electric car or an SUV needs to be recovered, half of all our patrol vans are equipped with our market-leading ‘all-wheels-up’ recovery system.”
Track the UK’s progress towards zero-emissions driving in charts using the RAC’s ‘Road to Electric’ webpage.
IE Comment: More car buyers/renters will be reluctant to sign up for a four year lease contract on a diesel car as politicians ramp up their campaign against petrol/diesel drivers in 2021. More city centre ULEZ charges, more suburban street closures, urban cycle lanes and other climate agenda rules are fostering an anti-car atmosphere and that is bound to dent sales of used petrol/diesel vehicles too. After all, who needs extra punishment from the local Council when there’s so much anti diesel car rhetoric online? It’s easier to give in and rent a hybrid, which will be the de facto choice for many in 2021.
Yet for many drivers, the secondhand small diesel car/van at £3000-£5000 offers all-round transport for a family, or a delivery workhorse, at a relatively low entry cost, and modest running costs too. Insurers and brokers are right to seize the opportunity that politicians are offering with the stampede towards using battery powered vehicles; typical EV leasers are wealthy, have driveways, enjoy relatively secure public sector jobs etc and tend to be inherently risk averse. Ideal insurance customers.
But those who are denied entry to the electric car religious cult need insurance too. Many have no choice but to work long, unsocial hours and travel long distances to carry out that work. Public transport is dangerous at night and unreliable, which is why low paid workers often buy a cheap diesel car. The industry should not be a willing cheerleader to a New World Order EV apartheid, no matter how PC it appears to be. It isn’t inclusive, it excludes poorer people from large parts of the UK road transport infrastructure by pricing – and legislating – them out.
That inequality of opportunity and restriction on family life is still wrong, isn’t it? Or are we saying the poor must be quarantined at home to save the planet?