Monday 27 September 2021 3:18 pm

Exclusive: UK electric car market in top speed as sales jump 186 per cent during pandemic

Electric car sales in the UK have jumped by 186 per cent to 108,000 in 2020, up from just 38,000 in 2019, according to a new study, shared exclusively with City A.M. this morning.

This growth is six times higher than the average sales growth of electric cars globally at 31 per cent in 2020, putting the UK in fourth place out of 26 countries in the study by accountancy firm UHY.

Worldwide growth in sales of electric cars has outpaced global car sales – including petrol and diesel – which fell by approximately 15 per cent to 64m in 2020, down from 75m in 2019.

Less than a fifth (19 per cent) of countries in UHY’s study saw sales of electric cars fall during the first year of lockdown, including Japan which fell 31 per cent and Canada, down 20 per cent in 2020.

The UK was marginally behind Germany which also had a considerable increase in electric car sales, rising 207 per cent from 63,000 to 194,000 in 2020.

Source: UHY

UK government goals

The UK Government has set goals of banning the sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and hybrids from 2035.

Despite this, the UK’s EV incentives are not particularly competitive in comparison to other countries, mainly in Europe. This could risk holding the UK back in the race to net zero, if the costs of electric cars are not reduced further.

Although the Government has provided nearly £1.3bn in incentives for ultra-low emission vehicles since 2011, there have been cutbacks over the years. Previously, a grant of £5,000 was available and there was no cap on the price of the vehicle purchased.

However, now, grants only cover up to £2,500 , with the purchase price limited to GBP£35,000. 

There is also a grant for electric charging points which funds 75 per cent (up to £350) of the installation costs of charging points at domestic properties in the UK.

“It’s encouraging to see such a high growth rate in electric car sales in the UK. It’s one of the top performers, far ahead of other major economies such as the US,” said David Kendrick, partner at UHY Hacker Young, UHY’s member firm in the UK.

“However, petrol and diesel cars still dominate the UK’s automotive market, meaning electric car sales must grow much faster if we’re going to meet our ambitious targets. In order to facilitate this growth, a commitment to creating a vast amount of charging points over the next few years will be critical,” Kendrick told City A.M. this morning.

“It will also be reliant on the National Grid being able to provide enough energy to fuel this transition to electric cars and the extra demand this will create,” he added.

Kendrick urged the Government think about boosting EV incentives rather than reducing them.

“Unfortunately, the decision to slash grants for electric cars will have put them further out of reach for some people. However, it’s not too late for more benefits to be introduced,” he concluded.

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