UK ahead of green targets with ‘startling’ electric car uptake – on track for 2030 car ban

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According to the latest available statistics from the Department for Transport, electric vehicle sales in 2021 outstripped volume levels from the past five years combined. Required sales levels as outlined on the Climate Change Committee adoption curve for 2032 saw the UK over 60,000 vehicles ahead.

According to the briefing report, by 2032 at the latest the CCC has called for all new light-duty vehicles sold, including passenger vehicles, taxis, vans, motorbikes and mopeds, to be fully battery-electric vehicles.

To reach Net Zero, all vehicles – including heavy-goods vehicles (HGVs) – must be fossil fuel free by 2050. 

For passenger vehicles and vans, this will mean accelerating the uptake of EVs from around 400,000 today to 23.2 million by 2032.

This will represent 55 percent of all vehicles, with goals of 49 million EVs by 2050 – meaning every vehicle will need to be zero emission.

The CCC said to achieve this the Government would need to implement a range of policy and market mechanisms to accelerate uptake.

It added that by 2024, new EV passenger vehicles should hit lifetime price parity with new internal combustion engine vehicles.

Four years later, the CCC said a successful pathway would see grid capacity ready for more than 300,000 charge points.

As part of Volkswagen Financial Services UK’s first EV tracking report, it highlights that the UK was over 60,000 vehicles ahead of the curve set out by the CCC.

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By way of overall market perspective, the figures demonstrate that the volume of electric cars on UK roads currently account for 2.6 percent of all passenger cars.

According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), total ULEV car sales (EV and PHEV) grew from 348,000 between July and September 2020 to 604,000 in the same period in 2021.

Sales of battery electric cars increased by 154 percent versus the total car market increase of 23 percent.

Mike Todd, CEO at Volkswagen Financial Services UK, said: “This first EV tracking report highlights the positive momentum that has, in recent years, seen increasing numbers of drivers switch from combustion engine vehicles to embrace greener, more sustainable transport.

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“The startling sales performance witnessed in 2021 is a recognition that for many an EV is the way to go. 

“This has resulted in the UK tracking 60,000 vehicles ahead of the necessary adoption curve timescale to meet the Climate Change Committee’s target of 55 percent of all light duty vehicles being battery powered in 10 years’ time.

“This is a vital component of the nation’s net zero ambition.”

Over the past decade, sales across the EV fleet have been modest, with accelerated sales volumes only commencing from around 2016, according to the DfT.

Whilst the strong sales performance of EVs during 2021 was notable it must be acknowledged that emerging social and economic challenges could impact the burgeoning EV market, particularly in the short term. 

A combination of cost-of-living pressures, tax rises, escalating energy costs, and global market uncertainty, is denting consumer sentiment and affecting behaviour.

The result of this changing scenario for many is that larger discretionary purchases such as a new car may be delayed or even cancelled. 

The cost-of-living squeeze will likely mean some potential EV purchasers may not commit to a switch this year, particularly as such vehicles are perceived to be more expensive in relative terms when compared to combustion engine alternatives, the report states.

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