The UK car market has been dealt a major blow, with new car sales hitting a 30-year low. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, only 1.35 million cars were registered in 2019, representing a 6.3% decline from the previous year. This is the lowest figure since 1988 when 1.26 million cars were registered.
The SMMT blamed the decline on a range of factors, including an uncertain economic outlook, a lack of consumer confidence, and the switch to WLTP emission standards. However, despite the overall decline, the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) soared in 2019, with the number of registrations more than doubling compared to 2018.
The UK government has set a target for all new cars and vans traded in the UK to be zero-emission by 2040, and the increase in EV demand shows that consumers are beginning to take notice. According to the SMMT, the number of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) registered was up 143.3% year-on-year to 45,510 units. This was driven by the launch of a number of new models, such as the Tesla Model 3 and the Nissan Leaf, as well as the introduction of government grants and incentives to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles.
The surge in demand for EVs has been welcomed by industry experts, who believe it could help the UK meet its zero-emissions target. However, significant challenges still need to be overcome before the UK can become a truly electric nation.
The biggest challenge is the lack of charging infrastructure. Currently, there are around 16,000 public charge points available in the UK, compared to around 200,000 petrol stations. This means that many drivers are reluctant to switch to electric vehicles due to concerns about the range and availability of charging points.
In addition, the cost of electric vehicles is still too high for many consumers. Although prices are beginning to fall as more manufacturers enter the market, the cost of buying an electric vehicle is still significantly higher than its petrol or diesel counterparts. This means that many people cannot afford to make the switch to electricity.
There is a problem with the battery capacity. Although manufacturers are making strides in improving battery technology, the range of electric vehicles is still limited compared to petrol or diesel cars. This means that drivers are reluctant to make the switch to electric due to fears of getting stranded if their battery runs out of charge.
Despite these challenges, the UK is making progress towards a zero-emission future. The government has committed to investing £1.5 billion in charging infrastructure over the next five years and has introduced a number of incentives to make electric vehicles more affordable.
Manufacturers are continuing to develop new electric models with improved range and battery capacity. This should help to make electric vehicles more attractive to drivers and could help to further boost demand in 2020.
The UK car market is facing some tough times due to an uncertain economic outlook and a lack of consumer confidence. However, the increase in demand for electric vehicles shows that consumers are beginning to take notice of the government’s zero-emissions target. With the right incentives and investments, the UK could be on track to becoming a truly electric nation in the near future.