Accordind to The Times this morning : the UK may have reached “peak petrol”, with sales of combustion engine cars falling as motorists shift to electric vehicles, according to research.
A study has predicted that 42 per cent of new cars sold in Europe will be battery-powered by the end of the decade, with the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Scandinavia leading the way.
Polling showed that half of UK motorists would consider an electric vehicle for their next purchase as the relative price of new green cars starts to drop because more are being produced.
The study by the auditors Deloitte said that “peak petrol” may have been reached. Sales of diesel cars have been in steep decline since the Volkswagen emissions scandal. Since the start of the pandemic sales of all combustion engine vehicles, including petrol models, have fallen away.
Jamie Hamilton, head of electric vehicles at Deloitte, said: “The outbreak of Covid-19 means we have likely seen petrol and diesel vehicles reach their sales peak, albeit relatively unnoticed. With total annual car sales unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024, even if sales growth in the petrol and diesel market returns it is likely to experience a decline in market share thereafter.”
Figures show that 30,957 electric cars have been sold in the UK since the start of this year, almost three times as many as in the same period last year. They now account for 4.7 per cent of new cars — almost one in 20 — compared with only 0.9 per cent a year ago.
The government has set a target to eliminate the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2035; this deadline could be accelerated to 2032 if progress is too slow.
Analysis by the consultants McKinsey shows that electric car sales in the UK are the 12th highest in the world. As a proportion of all cars sold, Norway had the highest electric vehicle “penetration rate”, with green vehicles accounting for almost 60 per cent.
The Deloitte report said that across Europe electric cars should account for 42 per cent of total sales by 2030 “but this doesn’t tell the whole story”.
It said that sales in wealthier countries “such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Netherlands” and Scandinavia were likely to grow the fastest as they “invest more in infrastructure and offer greater cash and tax incentives to accelerate initial growth”.
Mr Hamilton added: “The price premium attached to many electric vehicles [EVs] restricted some early adopters but as the cost of EVs have converged with petrol and diesel equivalents, the pool of prospective buyers is set to increase.
“A wider range of new electric vehicles, combined with a growing second-hand market, means EVs are becoming a more viable option for many. However, overcoming consumer concerns around driving range and perceived lack of charging infrastructure will be important factors as more drivers consider the practicalities of switching to electric.”
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