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The electric vehicle share of the retail market is falling behind where it needs to be to meet the Government’s 2030 targets, new research suggests.
With low benefit-in-kind tax rates incentivising company car drivers to make the switch to electric, the Government is being urged to incentivise the retail sector.
Research from Auto Trader suggests that, while consumer demand for used EVs is robust, buyer interest in new has dropped by almost two thirds – or 65% – since the beginning of 2022, due in part to the rising cost of living, higher borrowing costs, and the hike in energy prices.
The market for new EVs, says Autotrader, is still hampered by a lack of affordable choices, with the number of new electric models between £20,000 and £30,000 decreasing.
On average, a new Electric Vehicle costs around 37% more than a petrol or diesel alternative – a figure that has not changed since June 2022.
Among more affordable options below £30,000, the lack of choice is even more acute, with nine times fewer EVs available than traditionally fuelled models.
A new report from Auto Trader – The Road to 2030 – shows that the lower fuel prices and higher energy bills is eroding the previous Electric Vehicle advantage of lower running costs.
While electric car owners with a home charger can save up to £130 for every 1,000 miles by charging at off peak overnight rates, savings reduce to just £40 for those drivers using slow or fast chargers.
For drivers using ultra rapid chargers, EVs currently cost £16 more to run per 1,000 miles than conventionally fuelled vehicles.
In the second-hand market, used EVs are experiencing an expected, but significant price adjustment.
Since reaching a peak of £40,728 in July 2022, the average price of a second-hand electric car has fallen to £31,767 in mid-April.
This month alone, up to April 17, prices have dropped 17% on a year-on-year and like-for-like basis. In contrast, the average price of second-hand petrol and diesel cars are up 5.4% year-on-year (£16,312) and 3.4% (£16,518) respectively, while the broader market is up 3% year-on-year (£17,888) at the mid-April mark.
Although the average one year old used Electric Vehicle is 28% more expensive than a one-year-old petrol or diesel alternative, these price reductions are leading to a greater mix of affordable used EVs, with sub £30,000 stock now accounting for circa 60% of the total.
Nearly one in four (24%) are now under £20,000, up from just 7% in August 2022.
With more consumer choice than ever before, the imbalance of supply over demand is slowing the speed in which used EVs are selling.
In March, a used petrol and diesel car took a respective average of 25 and 27 days to leave forecourts, whilst EVs took 45. Last summer used electric vehicles were selling five days faster than petrol cars.
What’s more, there’s also significant regional variations in levels of supply and demand affecting days to sell and potential profit opportunities.
A 22 plate MG ZS is currently taking 18 days faster to sell in Glasgow (33 days) than the national average (51), and 26 days faster than in Peterborough (59).
Ian Plummer, Auto Trader’s commercial director, said: “We have the broadest single view of EVs, and as our data highlights, the market is incredibly nuanced, and so a broad-brush rarely reflects the true picture.
“With the Electric Vehicle market still maturing, its critical to follow the live retail data to identify profitable electric stock opportunities – to ensure you’re buying the right car for your market at the right price, selling them at the right price, and securing the best possible margin in the process.
“These are difficult times for the UK’s electric ambitions, however, and we’re in danger of veering off-track. Although used electric demand remains buoyant, the wider Electric Vehicle market is in a precarious position.
“To avoid more than just a small pothole on the road to 2030, more information, more incentives, and more equality is urgently required.”
With the introduction of Vehicle Excise Duty on EVs looming in 2025 – further reducing the incentives for ownership – Auto Trader is calling for a series of tax breaks to give a fresh spur to the mass adoption of electric vehicles – something that has worked well in other European countries to stimulate demand and grow the market.
To make the transition to electric fairer, Auto Trader is calling for VAT on public and private charging to be equalized and more incentives to make EVs affordable for all: such as reducing VAT on used EVs and lower or interest free rates on Electric Vehicle financing deals.
Furthermore, it suggests initiatives to build both buyer and seller confidence in used EVs with a focus on battery health.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis says that as things stand, the demand from drivers for EVs is there but without greater financial assistance there is a risk many will simply hold onto their older vehicles for longer.
“The fact around a third more electric cars in the UK are registered to businesses than to private individuals, with growth of the former outpacing the latter, shows just how much of an incentive the low company car tax rate has proved to be,” he said.
“It’s a shame the Government isn’t looking at introducing a grant to help stimulate the cheaper end of the Electric Vehicle market to help drivers who don’t have company cars get into EVs.”
Gerry Keaney, BVRLA chief executive, says that supported by targeted, effective incentives, the company-provided vehicle sector is delivering decarbonisation.
“Over half of new company cars are now electric,” he explained. “The direction of travel there is one way. That is but one example and a raft of targeted solutions are required to bring all sectors and all drivers together on this journey.”
Keaney believes that there is a genuine risk of the company-provided vehicle sector becoming an outlier, not the trailblazer it has always proven to be.
“Retail and used buyers face testing barriers that are putting them off switching to EVs, with not enough support in place to ensure their first experience of owning an electric vehicle is a positive one,” he continued.
“We know what those barriers are. Confusing communications, plus concerns over charging and cost of ownership risk thousands of drivers delaying their transition.
“Intervention is required to protect the long-term success of the market and enable a smooth transition to electric vehicles.”
Meanwhile in other news, Ikea to launch hundreds of Electric Vehicle chargers to power last-mile fleet.
Ikea has confirmed a £4.5m investment to install almost 200 electric vehicle chargers across the UK and Ireland, to serve its last-mile delivery fleet.
The retailer will install a total of 196 charging points under the new project, of which 53 will be rapid. Rapid chargers will be able to provide full charge on all of Ikea’s EVs in an hour or less.
The first of the chargers are now in place at the Ikea store in Cardiff. Further installations at stores across the UK and Ireland are planned for the remainder of the UK, as well as at the firm’s new customer distribution centre in Dartford. This is due to open later this spring.
Ikea has partnered with Statkraft subsidiary Mer on the installation of the charging points and on their electricity supply. All electricity supplied to the chargers will be from renewable sources.
In a statement, Ikea said the new investment is “fundamental” to its plans to achieve 100% zero-emission deliveries to customers in the UK and Ireland by 2025. By the end of summer 2023, it is aiming for 60% of deliveries in this market to be zero-emission.
Transport Decarbonisation Minister Jesse Norman welcomed this new interim goal from Ikea, and the investment made to achieve it. He said: “This investment is the latest example of businesses and government working together to decarbonise all aspects of road transport, improve air quality and create healthier, buzzing communities.”
Globally, Ikea posted a 4% year-on-year reduction in emissions resulting from the transportation of products in 2022. This reduction was achieved despite a 12% increase in the weight of goods transported and a 12% increase in kilometres travelled.
And finally, Jaguar Land Rover to ramp up EV production with £15bn investment.
Jaguar Land Rover has said it will invest £15bn over five years as Britain’s largest car-making employer upgrades its factories to produce electric vehicles, including its first UK-made battery car.
The company will shift production to electric cars at its plant at Halewood on Merseyside, while its factory making internal combustion engines in Wolverhampton, in the West Midlands, will focus on producing electric motors and associated parts.
JLR, which has 36,000 employees, said the £15bn would be spread over its “industrial footprint, vehicle programmes, autonomous, AI and digital technologies and people skills”, although did not set out how the money would be split.
The UK car industry will welcome the investment. Although it is owned by the Indian conglomerate Tata, JLR is the sole mass-market carmaker headquartered in Britain, and only Japan’s Nissan made more cars in UK factories in 2022.
Analysts have long been waiting for information on how JLR would meet its commitments to make Jaguar an all-electric brand by 2025, and to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2039. Some experts have criticised the company for falling behind in the race to produce electric vehicles. Its only fully electric car is the award-winning Jaguar I-Pace, which is built in Austria by a contract manufacturer.
JLR has also struggled more than some rivals to find enough semiconductor computer chips for its cars during a global shortage, which has held back its output and slowed its return to profitability after years of losses.
The company announced on Wednesday that its first UK-made electric car would be a £100,000 Jaguar four-door “grand tourer” built in Solihull in the West Midlands. The first deliveries will be in 2025. Design chief Gerry McGovern said the Jaguar brand had been “radically reimagined” and would be built from a separate blueprint to the other models.
JLR will also open orders for the first electric version of its Range Rover, its flagship vehicle. It has decided not to build hybrid versions – which combine a petrol engine with a battery – of its medium-sized Range Rover models, focusing instead on batteries “as the trend to electrification in certain markets increases”.
JLR’s chief executive, Adrian Mardell, said the company was “accelerating our electrification path, making one of our UK plants and our next-generation medium-size luxury SUV architecture fully electric”.
David Bailey, a professor of business economics at the University of Birmingham, said the size of the planned investment was welcome for the British car industry.
“They’re finally really speeding up the electrification, both on Jaguar but also on the other brands” including the lucrative Range Rover, a “big earner” for the company, he said. Bailey added that the separate blueprint for Jaguar “does raise the question of whether they will spin it off” as a separate company if its relaunch is successful.
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