UK electric vehicle sales figures more than doubled in 2020 from the previous year, with 86,291 fully electrified vehicles registered between January 2020 and November 2020. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), there are more than 100 different plug-in car models now available to buy in the UK, with manufacturers aiming to bring at least 35 further models to market in 2021. So, why have we seen such an increase in sales?
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has impacted our lives both economically and environmentally and there is huge anecdotal evidence to suggest that the virus is playing an interesting part in the rising numbers of electric vehicle (EV) sales.
For the most part, reluctance surrounding electrified vehicles was down to fears of limited mileage range. Yet, for many potential EV buyers, a balance seems to have struck between improvement in the range offered up by carmakers, and some drivers finding themselves making shorter, if not fewer journeys altogether because of the pandemic.
For others looking at ways to save money during an economically troubling time, the low long-term running costs of an EV are proving more and more attractive. While concern with regards to using public transport during a health pandemic is the catalyst behind some EV purchases for those who did not own a vehicle a year ago.
Aside from COVID related reasoning, some customers simply felt ready to make the electrified leap. The innovation behind the technology and the ride quality these vehicles offer is new and exciting. Many drivers want to experience this sooner rather than later and who can blame them?
Going forward it is clear that our rather lacking charging infrastructure needs serious investment and improvement to keep up with demand from drivers and to overcome the challenges that the Brexit trade agreement may pose.
SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes has recently commented on the work required; “Carmakers are leading the charge to zero-emission motoring, with massive investment in new models fuelling huge consumer interest but they can’t transform the market alone. To give consumers confidence to take the leap into these technologies, we need government and other sectors to step up and match manufacturers’ commitment by investing in the incentives and infrastructure needed to power our electric future.”
With EV sales showing no signs of letting up, news of the UK’s first Gigafactory couldn’t come at a better time. Start-up battery manufacturer Britishvolt has chosen a site in Blyth, Northumberland to build their battery Gigaplant. Once operational they plan to produce 300,000 lithium-ion battery packs each year to help supply the UK automotive industry. This week Nissan too confirmed that they would start battery production in the UK, confirming the security of its Sunderland plant following the announcement of the Brexit trade deal. “We’ve decided to localise the manufacture of the 62kWh battery in Sunderland so that all our products qualify [for tariff-free export to the EU]. We are committed to Sunderland for the long term under the business conditions that have been agreed” said Ashwani Gupta, Nissan’s chief operating officer.