Interest in electric vehicles surges by 500%, claims retailer

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Interest in electric vehicles from online car supermarket BuyaCar.co.uk surged by 500% this week as the government announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel models from 2030.

With electric cars normally representing little more than 300 searches per day, from a stock of more than 60,000 cars on BuyaCar.co.uk, this week’s announcement saw that figure shoot up to 1,679 in the 24 hours following Boris Johnson’s announcement.

But electric cars still have a hill to climb in the face of sustained demand for petrol cars, while even used diesels remain a popular used choice – despite their decline in the new car market.

As new diesel sales slumped this year by 55% compared with 2019, used diesels were still chosen by more than one in three buyers on BuyaCar.co.uk.

In contrast, used electric vehicles represent less than 1% of sales on BuyaCar.co.uk in 2020, highlighting the challenge facing the government’s new plan for ‘greener’ motoring. Even in the new car market, battery electric vehicles have so far taken just 5.5% of sales in 2020.

Despite a series of emission claims scandals affecting diesel’s image in particular and prompting increasingly harsh tax penalties against diesel use nationally and regionally, demand for diesels hasn’t collapsed completely. Last year diesels represented 38.1% of all cars sold on BuyaCar.co.uk with that figure falling in 2020 to 35.8%.

However, this week’s announcement of the government’s determination to encourage mass adoption of electric vehicles prompted a spike in searches for electric cars on BuyaCar, lifting them instantly from 6.5% of searches over the past 30 days to 10.3% in the hours immediately following Johnson’s announcement. And as the news sank in, searches for electric vehicles shot up from a typical daily figure of 310 to 1,679 in the following 24 hours.

Says Christofer Lloyd, editor of BuyaCar.co.uk:

“It seems that the government’s announcement has really sparked renewed interest in electric vehicles, surging on our site by a magnitude of 500% literally overnight.

“The reaction of motorists to the government’s announcement that new internal combustion engines will no longer be permitted after 2030 was widely expected around the industry, but the news story itself clearly caused a spike in enquiries for electric vehicles through our site.

“However, there is clearly a long road ahead for the government to ensure sufficient – and affordable – electric new cars, especially given that the overwhelming majority of motorists still aim for petrol or diesel. Now, with searches for electric cars suddenly breaking through the 10% mark in the wake of news that all new car drivers will have to have one in 10 years, it will be interesting to see if this translates into increased sales.”

Chris Price
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