UK replaces France as Europe’s second largest electric car market | Automobile industry
The UK overtook France to become Europe’s second-largest electric car market in the first quarter of the year, amid growing demand for cars without tailpipe emissions.
Around 31,800 battery-electric cars were sold in the UK in the first three months of the year, compared to 30,500 in France, according to the analysis by Matthias Schmidt, an independent car analyst.
Sales of electric cars have grown rapidly since the start of 2020, in part due to new emissions rules that force manufacturers to face hefty fines if the average carbon dioxide output of their products does not decline.
Electric batteries accounted for 7.5% of UK sales in the first three months of the year, according to industry data, nearly doubling market share compared to the same period in 2020.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 was the first year in which European consumers bought more than half a million electric cars. Schmidt predicts that figure is expected to double to 1 million sales in 2021, although pure electric still only accounts for a tenth of the total European car market by 2024.
Germany is by far the largest single market for battery electric cars in Europe, with 64,700 sold in the first quarter. This performance was helped in part by generous subsidies, doubled by the German government in June, to help its auto industry, which is the key to Europe’s largest economy. Other markets are proportionately more advanced than the UK in switching to electric cars. Norway was in 2020 the first country in the world where more electric cars were sold than fossil fuel cars, thanks to generous subsidies.
Schmidt said: “The UK will likely remain Europe’s second largest battery electric vehicle (BEV) market this year, although far behind the German market leader, which manufacturers rely on to meet EU-wide targets. thanks to the generous incentives on offer there. “
Schmidt added that manufacturers will need to further increase their sales of plug-in cars in the UK in a “breakthrough year” to comply with new post-Brexit emissions limits. The rules mirror those of the EU, but going it alone means automakers won’t be able to balance UK SUV buyers with cleaner models sold in other countries.
There has already been evidence that manufacturers are trying to promote low-emission models in the UK, Schmidt said. At the end of March, German automaker BMW lowered the price of its electric i3 to meet a lower bar for government subsidies.
While sales to UK consumers are expected to rise steadily, drivers fear the UK charging network will not be up to the task. A survey of UK drivers carried out by YouGov commissioned by CTEK, an electric car charger company, found that 78% believe the charging infrastructure is not yet adequate, compared to 65% in other European countries studied.
The survey also found, according to other reports, that the relatively higher sticker price of electric cars was the main reason that kept more people from buying. However, prices are expected to come down to compete with fossil fuel cars, as increased demand creates a virtuous circle.