Electric vehicle sales could slump as drivers prefer cheaper cars

Vallance: It’s impossible for majority to buy electric car

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The uptake of electric vehicles continues to gather pace and is on course to meet net zero targets, indicating that EVs are generally welcomed and regarded as a good thing. However, the current cost of living crisis could stunt the UK’s progress toward the Government’s net zero 2032 goal.

While the UK has been on a strong trajectory until now, sitting 151,236 ahead of the exponential adoption, there is a general consensus that this may not be the case for much longer. 

Volkswagen Financial Services UK’s (VWFS) third instalment of its quarterly EV Tracker Report has found that well-documented economic issues such as record low consumer confidence in the economy.

This coupled with rising fuel and food prices driving the cost of living crisis, were heavily influencing decisions around EV adoption.

During the second quarter, the total number of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) of all kinds on Britain’s roads reached 901,819. 

This represented an increase of 76,965 over the previous quarter and accounted for 2.4 percent of all cars and LCVs. 

Despite this, experts at VWFS warn that the ongoing cost of living crisis may slow progress, with two-thirds of consumers now prioritising a cheaper purchase over one which would benefit the environment.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mike Todd, CEO at Volkswagen Financial Services UK, said: “Our latest EV Tracker continues to shed light on the rapidly evolving EV market and the factors influencing perceptions and overall adoption. 

“While perceptions around cost may have caused some loss of enthusiasm around EVs generally, seven of the top 10 best-selling new cars in the UK during the most recent period were EVs.

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“Economic conditions remain challenging and are likely to mean many individuals opt to delay a proposed EV purchase until their individual finances, and confidence in the future, are more favourable.”

As a ‘big ticket’ item, the purchase of a new vehicle is arguably more susceptible than most to the impact of economic downturns and failing confidence among individual consumers. 

Purchases may be delayed or even shelved altogether as other areas of domestic expenditure take priority.

Recent research from electrifying.com found that many popular cars are being hit by waiting times of up to 18 months.

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Current challenges around rising fuel, food and energy prices, as well as overall economic confidence, may all contribute to a planned EV purchase becoming less of a priority, even for those aware of – and keen to exploit – the economic and environmental benefits they offer.

Mr Todd added: “Many people are keen to do more to be ‘greener’ but it’s not unreasonable or unexpected that they delay this in order to focus on more pressing financial considerations.

“As a ‘big ticket’ item, the perceived cost of EVs continues to be a challenge for many considering adoption. 

“As a finance provider, we continue to review the situation and develop innovative solutions that allow individuals to access the benefits of greener personal transport in a manageable and affordable way.”

He also pointed to the cost of living crisis leading to a massive slump in economic confidence, which has affected car sales all year.

it is perhaps no surprise that expectations for spending on “big ticket” items reached a record low in September too.

Meanwhile, nearly two thirds of consumers would now prioritise a cheaper purchase over one which would benefit the environment.

This is very much in line with established thinking that broader concerns such as sustainability often fall in importance among consumers when tougher economic conditions take hold.

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