UK Enviroment Down, Pollution Up. Combustion Is Winning

By Brett Hurll  

The UK's desire for new combustion cars is up, but the EVs stall in the slow lane.  


The latest figures indicate a pause in the growth of electric vehicle (EV) sales, coinciding with the government's postponement of a ban on new fossil fuel-powered vehicles. The data shows that EVs accounted for 15.6% of new car sales, a slight dip compared to the 16.3% average for the year. On the other hand, the market share for plug-in hybrid vehicles has increased to 9.3% for the month, surpassing the annual average of 7.1%.


This change in consumer behavior aligns with the recent announcement by the current Prime Minister, extending the deadline for the ban on new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035, diverging from the policy set by Boris Johnson, his predecessor.


The auto industry has attributed the robust sales of EVs primarily to corporate buyers who benefit from tax incentives, noting that only a quarter of these vehicles are purchased by private individuals. This discrepancy has prompted calls for renewed financial incentives for personal buyers, especially since the removal of a particular EV subsidy in 2022.


An uptick in plug-in vehicle purchases overall — a 35% increase to 375,000 this year — is linked to the expanding network of public charging stations, which is a critical factor influencing consumer decisions.


Car purchases surged in October, reaching a five-year high, bolstered by the installation of over 4,700 new charging points, marking the most significant quarterly increase to date. Despite this progress, the distribution of new charge points remains uneven, heavily favouring the southeast, and there's a push for more balanced placement and pricing strategies. Suggestions include aligning the VAT on public charging with the lower rate for home charging, benefitting those without access to private charging solutions, such as apartment dwellers and renters.


The motor industry predicts a total of 1.9 million car registrations in the UK for 2023, signifying a 16% year-on-year increase, but still lagging behind the 2.3 million cars registered in 2019. The adoption of EVs is projected to grow slower than previously expected, making up 17% of the market in 2023 and 22% in 2024.

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