EV sales 'could overtake petrol and diesel by 2025'

Sales of electric cars could overtake petrol and diesel cars by the middle of the decade, according to predictions from one of the UK’s biggest online marketplaces.

Auto Trader has used insights from activity on its platform along with a survey of drivers to estimate that combined sales of alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) - hybrids and EVs - will overtake regular combustion-engined (ICE) models by 2024 and new EVs will outsell ICE by 2025.

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In the past year while sales of ICE models have fallen, new EV registrations have soared. By the end of 2020, EV registrations were up by 186 per cent compared with 2019 and accounted for 6.6 per cent of new vehicle registrations. In January 2021 they continued to rise in the face of an overall market slump, reaching 6.9 per cent of market share.

While they still represent a small proportion of new registrations, the Auto Trader report estimates that within four years EVs will be a more popular choice with buyers of new models.

Registrations of new EVs jumped 186 per cent in 2020 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Based on search traffic, enquiries to dealers and advert views via its site, the study reports a 78 per cent increase in demand for EVs between December 2019 and 2020. In comparison, demand for petrol cars was up 0.6 per cent and interest in diesel fell 7.7 per cent. “Leads” sent to dealers were also up 413 per cent, representing 11 per cent of all new car leads generated - up from four per cent in December 2019.

A survey of drivers also showed a rapid increase in the level of interest in AFVs EVs. In August 2020 13 per cent of motorists said they were considering an AFV as their next purchase. By November that had risen 16 per cent and in January 2021 had reached 24 per cent. A third of those questioned said that the 2030 ICE ban was fuelling their plan to opt for an AFV.

The Auto Trader report estimates that if buying patterns follow this increase in interest, EVs will account for 10 per cent of all cars on the UK’s roads by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030 as older cars are scrapped and replaced with EVs, with ICE “almost disappearing” by the mid-2040s.

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Auto Trader’s commercial director, Ian Plummer, said: “We’ve based our projections quite conservatively on the current trajectory of AFVs and ICE vehicles in the market, as well as the trends we’re observing on our marketplace. Over the last few years we’ve seen consumer sentiment towards electric grow steadily, and whilst conversion from consideration to purchase remains relatively low, it is accelerating as the latest models become ever more attractive, while aspirational brands like Tesla help shift consumer perception. When they become more affordable and the required infrastructure improves, we’re confident we’ll see adoption levels increase significantly and rapidly.”