Consumer worry sparks drop in demand for electric cars

Consumer worry sparks drop in demand for electric cars
Sales of electric vehicles are down on last year due to consumer concerns over access to charging points and affordability.

According to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), electric car sales dropped 33.7% in January and February compared to the same period last year.

This equates to just 635 new EVs being registered in January – down from 1,010 in 2017 – marking a 37.1% fall.

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In February, only 355 new EVs were sold resulting in a 26.5% drop from the 483 registrations the year before.

The falling demand has been put down to a number of factors by the RAC Foundation – which says a lack of consumer confidence in access to charging points, initial costs, EV residual value and range limitations is pulling down sales figures.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, commented: “Even though some car buyers will have been waiting for the new March number plate, the fall-off in sales of pure electric vehicles year-on-year is much sharper than the decline in the total for new car registrations.

“These figures suggest that consumers are still worried about the four Rs that we see holding back the pure-electric market – retail price, range limitation, recharging availability and uncertain residual value.

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“Until more affordable models come to market with a longer range and more is done to make recharging less of a headache, it is hard to see how the picture is really going to change.”

However, the SMMT’s chief executive Mike Hawes has urged consumers to have more confidence in going electric following “significant investment” from the industry and the “ever-increasing” number of models of EV available.

Mr Hawes said: “Thanks to significant investment by industry there is an ever-increasing range of pure electric and plug-in vehicles on the market, with more than 40 models now on sale and most major manufacturers having electrification plans in place.

“However, pure electric vehicle demand remains low, taking 0.5 per cent market share last year, amid consumer concerns around charging infrastructure availability and affordability.”

EV sales figures could be set to drop again next month when the current government incentive – offering £4,500 off fully electric vehicles and £2,500 off some hybrid models – ends.

Copyright Press Association 2018. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.