The question of “is insert year the year of the electric car?” has been being asked on an annual basis for a little while now, and it’s starting to become apparent that the switchover to electric cars is set to be a gradual change rather than a sudden one. However, if there was to be a “decade of the electric car”, the 2020s certainly could be in with a great shout.
With electric cars no longer a novelty and all key metrics pointing the right direction for their uptake around the world, there are a number of reasons why the 2020s could be remembered as when the tide really turned from combustion engines to electric ones.
Sales are increasing
When they first arrived on the scene, electric cars were downright unaffordable for the average person, making them unfeasible as the dominant transport option of the future. Now, though, with model numbers rising, a much wider production focus and cheapening of the technologies involved, sales are soaring – and progressively getting bigger each and every year. To date in 2020, over 500,000 EVs have been sold across Europe this year. That’s compared to a figure of 345,000 in 2019, but when you consider there’s been a not so subtle disruption to virtually all forms of commercial enterprise because of a certain virus, that figure, and the continuation of considerable year on year increases, is quite stunning.
The sales tally for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids combined this year in Europe is comfortably over one million, which displays a clear direction of consumer buying patterns for the future. With us being in year one of the 2020s, it’ll be intriguing to see what 2021 and a hopeful return to normality holds for future sales figures.
State investment continues
Part of the reason for such rapidly increasing sales is that they are to some degree state sponsored. For a long time now, the UK government has offered an electric and low-emission vehicle grant to help subsidise buyers choosing to go electric with their next purchase. This figure currently goes as high as £3,000, having been higher in the past but reduced to reflect drops in costs and increased accessibility.
Beyond buying incentives, the state is committed to making our roads fully electric in the not so distant future, a goal which is being pursued through a number of initiatives. Wholly diesel- and petrol-powered new vehicles will no longer be allowed to be sold from 2030 onwards, while the government has also created a 10-point, £4bn initiative for a “green industrial revolution”, of which the full transition to EVs and plug-ins is a considerable factor.
Considering sales of new cars powered on fossil fuel combustion alone are to be stopped by 2030, it’s fair to imagine a near full cessation of non-EV production efforts comfortably inside the 2020s.
Options are plentiful
Electric vehicles appeared somewhat like concept cars where they initially appeared on the global market. They were curiously designed, odd looking and packed with futuristic tech that seemed a tad unnecessary – and of course cost a hefty fee.
At the time, they seemed more of a gimmick than the future of driving, but the shift to mainstream popularity since that time has been considerable. As EV sales have risen and the concept of sustainability come more to the fore in modern consumerism, major brands have got on board and started building for the future.
That means you have electric versions of on-road staples popping up everywhere, with the likes of the Volkswagen e-Golf, the Vauxhall Corsa-e and Peugeot e-208 just a few models among other household names now available in EV format. The success and growth of Tesla over the last few years is another shining testament to the development of the EV market.
As of October 2020, there were 205 plug-in variants available to UK consumers. Made up of models from specialist EV manufacturers and household auto brands, this significant increase in numbers has helped boost accessibility and appeal for the average car buyer, and seen prices drop dramatically to a now much more feasible level. As a general rule of thumb, electric cars are also cheaper to insure than their combustion-based counterparts, which means buyer’s premiums on the likes of comprehensive cover on the average EV Vauxhall or Mercedes gap insurance will also be kinder on the pocket.
Overall, every key indicator points to the coming decade being the period that the tide truly turns in favour of EVs. With sales rising, options increasing and the government both financially and soon to be legally behind the push, it’s hard to imagine anything other than an EV dominant car market by the turn of 2030.