Posted 19 November, 2020 at 17:30
INTEREST IN ELECTRIC VEHICLES offered by the online car supermarket BuyaCar.co.uk surged by 500% this week as the government announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel models from 2030.
With electric cars normally representing little more than 300 searches per day, from a stock of more than 60,000 cars on BuyaCar.co.uk, this week’s announcement saw that figure shoot up to 1,679 in the 24 hours following Boris Johnson’s announcement.
But electric cars still have a hill to climb in the face of sustained demand for petrol cars, while even diesels remain a popular used choice - despite their decline in the new car market.
As new diesel sales slumped this year by 55% compared with 2019, used diesels were still chosen by more than one in three buyers on BuyaCar.co.uk.
In contrast, used electric vehicles represent less than 1% of sales on BuyaCar.co.uk in 2020, highlighting the challenge facing the government's new plan for ‘greener’ motoring. Even in the new car market, battery electric vehicles have so far taken just 5.5% of sales in 2020.
Despite a series of emission claims scandals affecting diesel’s image in particular and prompting increasingly harsh tax penalties against diesel use nationally and regionally, demand for used diesels has barely changed this year compared to 2019.
And as well as buying diesels in significant numbers, motorists are still actively searching for diesel cars when they arrive on BuyaCar.co.uk, according to analysis of hundreds of thousands of recent visits to the site.
Last year diesels represented 38.1% of all cars sold on BuyaCar.co.uk with that figure falling in 2020 to 35.8%. In the new car market diesels fell back by 9% to 16.6% of the market. But on BuyaCar searches for diesel cars have fallen this year by just 2.3%, suggesting that demand is relatively consistent from diehard diesel fans.
However, this week's announcement of the government's determination to encourage mass adoption of electric vehicles prompted a spike in searches for electric cars on BuyaCar, lifting them instantly from 6.5% of searches over the past 30 days to 10.3% in the hours immediately following Johnson's announcement. And as the news sank in, searches for electric vehicles shot up from a typical daily figure of 310 to 1,679 in the following 24 hours.
Christofer Lloyd, editor of BuyaCar.co.uk, said: "It seems that the government’s announcement has really sparked renewed interest in electric vehicles, surging on our site by a magnitude of 500% literally overnight.
“It will be interesting to see if that appetite for electric cars is maintained, when the story dies down. Meanwhile, the government has clearly realised that encouraging mass adoption of cars with zero emissions at the tailpipe, calls for drastic measures and our own experience of the sustained demand for diesels confirms it.
"Despite several years of negative publicity and increasingly tough regulatory measures designed to curb diesel use, the so-called oil burner remains a practical choice for around one in three drivers - due to their greater fuel economy than petrol equivalents and prices that are typically much lower than for equivalent electric models.
"This year diesels have never dipped below 31% of sales and reached a high point of 40% in June. This month we are tracking diesels at 37% of sales on BuyaCar, which is slightly higher than the average for 2020 as a whole.
"The reaction of motorists to the government's announcement that new internal combustion engines will no longer be permitted after 2030 was widely expected around the industry, but the news story itself clearly caused a spike in enquiries for electric vehicles through our site.
"However, there is clearly a long road ahead for the government to ensure sufficient - and affordable - electric new cars, especially given that the overwhelming majority of motorists still aim for petrol or diesel. Now, with searches for electric cars suddenly breaking through the 10% mark in the wake of news that all new car drivers will have to have one in 10 years, it will be interesting to see if this translates into increased sales.”