By Paul Homewood
Detailed data reveals that private motorists have stopped buying
Hopes for the mainstream adoption of electric cars have been punctured by figures revealing a fall of more than 11 per cent in the sale of zero-emission vehicles to private buyers.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has said that motorists are holding back from the switch because of continued uncertainty about whether a government ban on petrol and diesel cars will be enforced, the cost of electric vehicles, the cutting of financial incentives, and fears about the lack of a public recharging network.
Ministers and the industry have previously hailed rising sales of electric cars as a sign that Britain is ready to move from the “early adopter” stage of battery electric vehicle (BEV) ownership to mass market.
However, the number of electric cars bought by private owners has fallen from more than one in three of the BEV market to less than one in four in just a year. Figures for the first half of the year showed a 32 per cent surge in BEV sales to 152,000 cars, accounting for a sixth of all new registrations.
However, detailed data reveals that private motorists have stopped buying.
The vast majority of new BEV registrations this year — more than 75 per cent — were with fleets and business owners, which can take advantage of company car tax breaks, the benefits-in-kind regime and salary-sacrifice schemes that mean running an electric car attracts dramatically less tax.
In the first half of this year, 37,000 new electric cars were registered to private retail-buying motorists, or just 24.2 per cent of all BEVs. That is down from the 41,800 BEVs sold to private motorists in the first half of last year when retail buyers accounted for 36.3 per cent of all electric car sales.
The fall coincides not only with the cost of living crisis but also with the scrapping of the “plug-in car grant”, which at one stage was worth up to £5,000 off a new electric car.
I have strongly suspected for a long time that most EVs are bought by businesses and fleets, but have never found that data to back it up.
This new study in The Times not only shows that EV sales to private buyers has actually dropped year-on-year. It also indicated that about 8% of private sales are BEV.