Overview 2021 Q1
The automotive industry in the UK has faced a stuttering start to 2021. Despite recovering from the lows experienced a year ago, lockdowns throughout the quarter meant overall traffic to car websites was down 2% and car registrations were down compared to Q1 2020.
The Sophus3 EV index shows a slight decrease in consumer interest in EVs this quarter. This is likely a knock-on effect of low overall market confidence leaving many prospective buyers waiting for calmer waters before actively pursuing a new electric car purchase. Recently released data from the ACEA shows that this is reflected in new car registrations, with EV market share decreasing to 7% from a high of 13% in Q4 of 2020. On the bright side, year-on-year sales of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are up 74% and alternatively fuelled vehicles made up 39% of new registrations in Q1.
The EV index stayed flat on the previous quarter, with measurable improvement on the part of car companies to increase choice and affordability. Several new EV releases were announced in the previous 3 months from brands including Volkswagen, Toyota and Audi. There is still a significant upfront cost differential between combustion engine cars and EVs, however, there are signs the gap is beginning to close as new releases and price reductions help to tip the scales.
This quarter’s index improvement was driven primarily by the ramping up of charging station rollouts. According to ZapMap there are now over 40,000 public chargers available in the UK. If we look at the breakdown, we see growth in both rapid chargers along major roads as well as new slow chargers situated in residential areas to encourage adoption amongst those without access to off-street parking. According to the Energy Vehicle Association, next steps for the UK government include easing access to chargers with universal payment methods, improved transparency of pricing, and stricter reliability requirements.
We also note the rise of other innovations to help the transition to EVs. New energy tariffs aimed at EV owners are a great example of this. Octopus energy, Good Energy and ecotricity are just some of the brands now offering tariffs designed to give EV owners access to very cheap (and sometimes free) electricity to charge their vehicles. Developments like this will help answer the concerns of the many who remain unsure about making the switch.