The perfect electrical storm as environmental campaigns drive surge in EV interest in the UK

  • Sophus3 reveals electric vehicle (EV) interest hit a peak in April and May in the UK
  • Extinction Rebellion and London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) campaigns timed with arrival of ‘affordable’ Tesla 3 in the UK drove online traffic to EV models
  • New peak followed a drop in online EV interest in the UK in Quarter 1 2019 – compared to growing interest in the EU
  • Interest in EVs up 56% since the start of the environmental campaigns in London

London, 24th May 2019:


Car buyer data specialist Sophus3 has revealed a surge of interest in electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK following the combination of high-profile environmental campaigning, the introduction of emissions legislation in London and the arrival of the world’s most high-profile electric car.


Sophus3 analyses visitor journeys on virtually all car brand and major automotive publisher websites. The 40-day period from the beginning of April that covered London’s ULEZ launch day (8th April), the Extinction Rebellion climate change protests (from 15th April) and news of the arrival of the ‘affordable’ Tesla Model 3 into the UK (1st May) presented the company’s analysts with a positively shocking trend in consumer behaviour: online traffic to EVs was up 56% when compared to the 40 days before April.


The significant peak in online interest and research into electric vehicles registered over this time period indicates a direct impact on consumer behaviour towards EVs, stimulated by the environmental news agenda. All this against a worrying backdrop of falling interest in EVs in the first quarter of 2019 in the UK (-6% year-on-year) when compared to other major EU car markets such as Germany (+43% y-o-y) and Spain (+41% y-o-y).


Scott Gairns, Managing Director, Sophus3, said, “We saw a worrying drop in online interest in EVs in the UK in the first quarter of 2019, so it was both reassuring and exciting to see this surge in online traffic to EV websites from April. We believe that the combination of environmental campaigning, low-emission legislation and news of the Tesla 3’s arrival stimulated a new level of consumer interest in EVs.


“It is not enough for a car brand to launch a new EV alone, nor for new legislation to try and promote low-emission cars by penalising traditional petrol or diesel cars, because the consumer is still confused about owning an EV, or even who sells them and where to buy them. All of our analysis in recent years has pointed to EV sales requiring both ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’ for the consumer as we closely monitor how the online car shopper behaves when researching cars.“


Sophus3 analysis reveals surge in interest in EVs in April and May


Sophus3’s unique analysis of car brand and automotive publisher websites shows distinct ‘spikes’ around the time of the London Ultra Low Emission Zone activation, Extinction Rebellion campaigning and news of the arrival of the Tesla Model 3 to the UK. Interest since these ‘spikes’ appears to have been maintained.



Quarter 1 2019 interest levels in EVs, as analysed by Sophus3 across the five major EU car markets, showed significant levels of growing interest in Germany, Spain, Italy and France, but a declining level of interest in the UK when compared to Quarter 1 2018.