Are Brits Buying Electric Cars: EV Market Update

Tesla Electric Car

The Old Guard Can Pretend Not To See The Writing On The Wall ‘EVs Will Comprehensively Replace Polluting ICE vehicles’, But They Cannot Stop The Impending Rise Of Electric Vehicles! 

A few weeks ago, a comment by a senior BMW executive made headlines.  Shortly after BMW announced its intention to further accelerate its ‘electrification strategy’, a senior BMW executive seemed to suggest people were not buying EVs.

BMW, like all major global automotive manufactures, have realised that the impending migration to zero-emission motoring is fast moving to the mainstream.  Hence, the decision to advance the introduction of 25 new plug-in electric cars by two years from 2025 to 2023. BMW is not alone in advancing its plans for introducing its EV portfolio. Other automotive manufacturers are also doing the same.  Everyone is now in ‘catch up’ overdrive mode!

So it did surprise me (putting it politely), that the senior BMW executive and board member Klaus Frolich was not positive in his remarks regarding electric vehicles.  I would encourage Mr. Frolich to do his homework and read the market data on the sales of EVs.  The writing is clearly on the wall.  EVs sales are certainly on the increase and this is just the start! I do not want to speculate, but I suspect much of the ‘old guard’ in the automotive sector are threatened by the rapid adoption of electric vehicles to include plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehciles (BEVs).  

So Are Brits Buying Electric Cars?

Yes, without an iota of doubt.  We are now well into the second half of the year and the data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers And Traders (SMMT) demonstrates clearly the strong demand from consumers for lower to zero emission electric vehicles.  

As of July 2019

  • Sales of diesel cars are down a whopping 19.7% this year compared to the same period last year. 
  • Sales of petrol cars are up buy a mere 3.4% this year compared to the same period last year. 
  • sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are up a gigantic 70.6% this year compared to the same period last year.
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are down 32.4% this year compared to the same period last year. 
  • Hybrid electric Vehicles (HEVs) are up 19.2% this year compared to the same period last year. 

It is clear, that since the unfolding of the dieselgate scandal in 2015, the downward sales trend of diesel cars continues unabated, as consumers shun polluting cars for more environmentally friendly lower emission cars.  

The fall in PHEVs was expected and due to the following reasons:

  • New models of pure electric vehicles i.e. BEVs have significantly improved range, therefore reducing the need to buy PHEVs to overcome ‘range anxiety’.  The 2019/2020 all-electric models have WLTP ranges well over 150 miles and in some cases like the Tesla models over 300 miles. 
  •  The government terminated the PiCG incentive for PHEVs but continues to provide financial support for BEVs.  I agree with this approach as PHEVs are at ‘best’ just a stepping stone from internal combustion engines to all-electric vehicles.  In time, PHEVs will be phased out.  
  • Consumers are determined to reduce the impact of personal transportation on the environment and are demonstrating a strong enthusiasm for zero-emission personal transportation 

Despite the increased sales of BEVs, the overall penetration of BEVs in the UK is still relatively nascent at 1% market share.  However, the continued growth of HEVs clearly points to the migration to lower emission vehicles.  I believe that the diesel market share will continue to drop significantly in favour of ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs), in particular, BEVs.  

red electric car charging

Furthermore, the numerous announcements by global automotive manufacturers i.e. the EV pipeline, the improvement in EV charging infrastructure and the continued headlines related to climate change, position the UK market strongly for the rapid adoption of electric vehicles.  

  • Year to date 2019: total number of BEVs registrations: 14,246 
  • Year to date 2019: total number of PHEVs registrations: 16,687 
  • Year to date 2019: total number of HEVs registrations: 56.975 

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Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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