Consumer car market stalling amid cost of living crunch

A woman presses a calculator to determine and summarize the cost of home equity loans to refinance mortgages. concept of living

Private car sales in the UK continue to flounder amid the cost of living crisis and mixed signals about electric cars says The Car Expert.

The car sales data for October, released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), shows that the total UK market grew by 14% compared to the same period last year.

The growth, largely driven by a fleet sector that continues to recover from its troubles during the pandemic, is not mirrored when it comes to private sales, which were completely flat at just 0.3% up over last October.

Analysis by the UK’s most comprehensive automotive consumer advice site also indicates that consumer appetite for EVs may have been dented by the recent swirl of misinformation, assisted by a government which is hoping to capitalise electorally from a more negative stance towards EVs.

Stuart Masson, Editorial Director at The Car Expert, said: “There’s clearly a lack of consumer confidence which is holding back private car sales. Cost of living constraints are always going to limit sales to some degree; we need inflation under control and for interest rates to come down, but we also require clear and consistent messaging about our EV future – this is where the government needs to shape up and understand the path we are on.

“Also, we need our charging infrastructure to develop more quickly. If investors see that the UK is lagging behind in terms of EV sales, they will take their money elsewhere, financing charge point projects in other countries where demand is stronger.

“Charging infrastructure needs to be abundant. In our homes and places of work there are always plenty of plug sockets for our various devices, we don’t even think about it. That is where we need to be – we need an abundance of EV charge points up and down the country.”

In just two months’ time, 22% of all new cars sold by car manufacturers must be zero emission. Currently, EV sales are around 16% of the market year-to-date – a figure which has not grown at all during 2023, and is currently on track for a worse result than in 2022.

1 thought on “Consumer car market stalling amid cost of living crunch”

  1. Kevan Chippindall-Higgin

    People are now discovering just how long cars really last with proper maintenance. Of course e vehicle sales are static. They cost 50% more, a disincentive straight away. Then there is the issue of charging. If you do not have private parking, getting a charge is lottery. Then there is the cost of charging. At one point, charging an EV cost more than filling it with fuel. While home charging is good as far as it goes, great swathes of the population are excluded due to where they live. There is then the sheer time needed to charge the things.

    I did enjoy the vista of a number of very deeply unhappy drivers standing around with grim body language waiting for the queue to diminish. Sadly it was not raining, because of course, the chargers have no shelter which would have made their lives replete.

    We must also look at the chargers. They often do not work. I stopped at a major filling station on the A3 and both of its machines were dead. Then we must look at range, which will never be as good as the optimistic adverts claim. Once in rural areas, where is the nearest charger and does it work?

    This technology works fine for some inner city uses, but is simply not viable for anything else, nor is it affordable for the consumer. It is also not affordable for government. Fuel duty raises £50 billion pa plus another £10 billion VAT on the duty. How is that to be replaced?

    The whole thing is wildly impractical and doomed to failure for another very simple reason. The vast resources required to make the batteries and motors are simply not there. There have been studies showing that cobalt and lithium aside, there will also be a global shortage of copper, thus driving up prices. These things are going to end up costing more and more and more, taking them out of the reach of many. Politically, people will end up poorer both in cash and living standards terms and all this for a total myth. CO2 is a trace gas making up just 0.042% of the atmosphere of which mankind is responsible for around 3-4%.

    CO2 increases follow temperature increases, making it quite impossible for CO2 to be driving anything apart from more luxuriant plant life. For some data on this, including some BBC falsifications, visit

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