Patrick Fuller, Head of Insight, explains how the EV Index from Sophus3 helps car brands navigate the shift to electrification.


“We all know how challenging the car industry is finding the transition to electric, with sales for the first quarter across the whole of Europe standing at just 13.2% compared with 15.4% for last year. At Sophus3 we’ve helped car brands to forecast the likely consumer demand by tracking EV audience share on car brand sites using our eDataXchange platform, which predicted the recent slowdown in sales as online interest started to plateau in 2022 and ’23.

We use this data to underpin our EV Index, which aggregates data from different sources to assess how ready each market is for electric vehicles—something that’s becoming increasingly urgent if car brands are going to meet this year’s EU and UK targets for emissions.

The EV index is formed from three pillars: consumer interest, affordability and choice and finally infrastructure. A score of 100 would mean that buying and owning an EV would be as easy as that for a conventionally powered vehicle. The first quarter of the year has seen the largest decline in EV readiness in the big five European markets since we first produced the index in 2020, reversing four years of consistent growth. Germany experienced the biggest decline with consumer interest plummeting, but all of the big five markets went backwards with none scoring more than 45 out of 100. That means it is still far easier to choose, afford and run a non-EV.

The sudden loss of government subsidies for EV buyers in Germany at the end of last year no doubt partially explains the fall in demand in that market. However, with EV sales for March much improved over January, this may be a hangover that is wearing off.

But consumers are not simply backtracking to petrol and diesel cars, both of which saw their market share shrink further during the first quarter. The growth area of the passenger car market so far this year has in fact been hybrids, with European volumes at up to just under 20% share, year-to-date. In marketing speak, it suggests that the ‘early majority’ customers are willing to make the switch to a new technology, but only if two things are true. One, it has to do the same or at least similar job to their existing vehicle, and two, it has to be affordable.

And this is the unexpected finding in the latest index. The relative list prices of EVs compared with their fossil-fuelled alternatives has actually worsened in Germany, Italy, and the UK during Q1, despite the significant incentives being offered behind the scenes at retail. We will continue to monitor the landscape in the coming months to see how consumer interest changes, but for now it’s all about the price.”

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