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Decline in Electric Car Sales to Individual Buyers Reflects Absence of Financial Incentives

Demand for EVs doesn’t match the supply as private owners have been hit with a cost-of-living crisis, historically high inflation and high energy costs.

Sales of electric cars to private drivers have declined due to the reduction of financial incentives and overall uncertainty surrounding the maintenance of EVs.

In the first half of 2023, private owners were less inclined to purchase electric cars compared to the same period last year.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) indicate that only 24.2 percent of all EVs registered this year belonged to private retail-buying motorists, a decrease from last year’s 36.3 percent.

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Drivers are showing less interest in entering the EV market due to affordability concerns, according to the trade association. British consumers no longer have access to any consumer EV incentives since the government discontinued the Plug-in Car Grant in June 2022.
Through the program, private owners were eligible for up to £1,500 off an EV, but the government discontinued it to prioritize the improvement of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Consequently, sales to private buyers have dropped from more than one in three to less than one in four.

The SMMT report states that drivers are struggling to keep up with the UK’s “ambitious EV transition timeline.”

According to current government plans, the sale of new cars powered solely by petrol and diesel will be prohibited nationwide from 2030, and all new cars and vans will need to be fully zero-emission by 2035.

In addition, motorists face pressure to comply with the new ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) standards. As ULEZ expansion covers all of London, car owners whose vehicles do not meet the standards must either upgrade to a new car or pay a £12.50 daily charge to drive within the zone.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes believes that comprehensive measures will encourage UK households to choose electric vehicles, benefitting the industry’s recovery from the pandemic and all stakeholders.

Earlier this year, Stellantis, the parent company of Vauxhall, cautioned that the middle class cannot afford the cost of electric cars without government subsidies. The demand for EVs among private owners does not align with the supply due to the financial challenges posed by the cost-of-living crisis, historically high inflation, and high energy costs.


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