Consumer EV sales crash points to industry in crisis

An electric car charger plugged into a car

The government is creating a crisis for the UK car industry by talking down electric cars while mandating manufacturers to increase sales of these vehicles, says The Car Expert.

September car sales data released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that the total UK market was up 21% compared to the same period last year, driven by a fleet sector that continues to recover strongly from its pandemic woes.

However, sales of new electric cars to consumers fell by 14%, which will be ringing alarm bells for car manufacturers.

Analysis by the UK’s most comprehensive automotive consumer advice site shows that negative public signals from the prime minister, fuelling anti-EV sentiment, could be hitting consumer confidence already.

In 2024 – just three months away – 22% of all new cars sold by car manufacturers must be zero emission. Currently, EV sales represent just over 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.

Stuart Masson, Editorial Director at The Car Expert, said: “While it is positive to see sales to fleets and business thriving, we have a government which is determined bash EVs in public while also requiring manufacturers to sell more of them. This is not a coherent strategy which will support consumers and businesses – it is thoroughly confusing and counterproductive.

“As a nation, we should not be left on the hard shoulder when it comes to electrification. We should remain in the fast lane and start harnessing our potential to lead in this sector while also giving car buyers more support, education and encouragement.”

“The government’s anti-EV messaging is driving customers away from some of the best new cars on the market, yet it still expects those customers to buy significantly more EVs in just three months’ time.”

While sales of EVs increased by 19% in September, this growth was driven entirely by fleets and businesses. With sales to consumers dropping by 14% and demand expected to keep falling, there will be concern in the industry that targets set for 2024 may be impossible to achieve.

Masson added: “We need a measured and consistent approach from government rather than U-turns for short term political gain. This approach does not benefit consumers or businesses and probably isn’t a vote winner either.”

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