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Fuel crisis boosts appeal of EVs for consumers

Image credit: vw

The UK fuel crisis has driven an increase in electric vehicle (EV) enquiries, according to the latest data from both the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and leasing sector specialists Leasing.com.

According to the SMMT's car registration figures for September, while the overall new car market in the UK recorded its weakest September since 1998 (ahead of the bi-annual two-plate system being introduced in 1999) battery electric vehicles continue to surge ahead, with 32,721 new vehicles hitting the road – the best monthly performance ever for the EV segment.

Meanwhile, data compiled by Leasing.com revelaed that electric car models such as the Volkswagen ID.3, Hyundai Kona and Tesla Model 3 all featured in the top 10 vehicles most enquired about during September. With EVs performing better than many conventional ICE (internal combustion engine) models, this suggests a significant uptick in the speed at which EV adoption is growing.

On the ICE side of things, the SMMT figures show a total of 215,312 news cars were registered in the month of September, a devastating -34.4 per cent fall year on year compared with September 2020, despite pandemic restrictions significantly curtailing economic activity at that time.

September is typically the second busiest month of the year for the industry, but the ongoing shortage of semiconductors worldwide continues to impact vehicle availability. Overall, the 2021 performance is down approximately -44.7 per cent on the pre-pandemic ten-year average.

The latest increase in EV growth is possibly in part a reflection of the UK fuel crisis, which has seen queues at the forecourts and the British army mobilised to help appease the tanker driver shortage. During the final week of September, as the fuel crisis was hitting its peak, the electric Volkswagen ID.3 was Leasing.com's most-popular vehicle enquiry.

Other factors are also contributing to the growth of EVs, including increased single-charge range from newer models which is helping to dispel 'anxiety range' for consumers. Newer models such as the ID.3 have a driving range of 340 miles, similar to that of an ICE car. Moreover, the new Lucid Air EV promises over 500 miles from a single charge, overtaking Tesla’s previous record of 402 miles achieved in 2020.

Paul Harrison, head of strategic partnerships at Leasing.com, said: “EVs must now be considered in the same breath as traditional combustion engines - we’re seeing sustained demand from consumers and strong new EV enquiries versus traditional fuel types.

“The growth in new EV sales also appears to go hand-in-hand with the increased demand for leasing. The latest FLA statistics show that the value of leasing contracts provided in the last 12 months grew faster than any other private new car finance product.”

Commenting on the shifting EV picture in the UK, Oliver Shaw, CEO at Kalibrate, a data and market intelligence agency for fuel retailers, said: “Reduced commuting, an increasing awareness of the environmental impact and significant investment in electric cars from the likes of Ford contributed to fewer traditional vehicles being registered in September.

“However, as the appetite for electric vehicles (EVs) grows, the lack of infrastructure to support widespread adoption will continue to be a roadblock in the journey. EVs do not have the support to sustain regular, long journeys and forecourt retailers largely remain unprepared; nearly half (48 per cent) of UK EV drivers still get nervous about running out of charge.

“The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has warned that Britain could require 10 times as many EV charging-points come 2030 and the recent supply chain issues with fuel stock running low is further evidence that a robust EV charging network could help plug the gap.”

In Leasing.com's overall car marques and models top 10 for September, Hyundai climbed to third place, while the Nissan Qashqai moved up to fifth place. The Volkswagen Golf reclaimed the top spot in the list of most popular car models.

The top 10 manufacturers are:

  1. Volkswagen
  2. BMW
  3. Hyundai
  4. Audi
  5. Nissan
  6. Range Rover
  7. Kia
  8. Volvo
  9. Ford
  10. Mercedes-Benz

The top 10 personal enquiries about specific vehicles:

  1. Volkswagen Golf
  2. BMW 1 Series
  3. Nissan Qashqai
  4. Vauxhall Corsa
  5. Volkswagen ID.3
  6. Hyundai Kona
  7. Range Rover Sport
  8. Volkswagen Tiguan
  9. Volkswagen T-Cross
  10. BMW 2-Series

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