Electric car demand falls as drivers stick with petrol and diesel
The number of people looking to buy an electric vehicle has fallen from a quarter of drivers in 2022, to fewer than a fifth (18 percent) in 2023. Despite the record-breaking fuel prices last year, more people are being put off from investing in an EV thanks to the rising cost of electricity.
An AA cars poll of more than 15,000 people has revealed that those in the market for a car remain high at 22 percent, the same proportion as last year.
Despite the drop-off in drivers looking to buy an EV this year, recent AA research found that a clear majority of drivers are still committed to going electric, with three-quarters of drivers planning to buy one in the future.
Official data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders shows that 13 percent of all new cars sold were EVs in January 2023, down from an average of 17 percent during the whole of 2022.
The more limited availability of second-hand EVs meant they accounted for just one percent of used car sales last year.
Meanwhile, data shows that in the last three months of 2022, EVs accounted for 4.8 percent of searches made on the AA’s used car platform.
This is quite a significant drop compared to the same period in 2021, where it was recorded at 11.2 percent.
One reason for drivers’ cooling interest in EVs could be the steady fall in fuel prices just as household electricity prices are set to rise sharply in April as Government support is wound down.
More than eight in 10 drivers who are planning to buy a car this year will be swapping their existing petrol or diesel for another internal combustion engine vehicle.
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More than half plan to buy a used petrol or diesel vehicle, while just over a quarter will be looking for a brand-new model.
Mark Oakley, director of AA Cars, commented on the data, and the trend of drivers second-guessing the decision to buy an electric car.
He said: “It is reassuring for the car industry that so many drivers intend to buy a car this year, though stretched household budgets are often leading people to make different purchasing decisions.
“AA Cars search data shows buyers are showing particular interest in smaller cars that are affordable to buy and cheap to run.
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“This may also be behind the cooling appetite for EVs, as they typically cost more upfront than their petrol or diesel equivalents.”
Of those who are looking to purchase a vehicle this year, many are looking at ways to limit their spending and get the most for their money.
Nearly a third of motorists say low running costs are one of the most important factors when choosing a vehicle, and 30 percent say they are looking for a car that will last them a long time.
Mr Oakley added: “With price inflation of the most popular used models levelling off, value is improving and this is a good time to start looking for a second-hand car.
“To ensure you are getting the best value and reliability when buying a used car this year, it is recommended that you get the vehicle inspected by an expert before parting with your money to check it is not likely to need imminent, and potentially costly, repairs.”
After seeing strong price inflation for much of 2022, price growth for the UK’s most popular second-hand cars slowed sharply at the end of the year, according to the latest AA Cars Used Car Index.
Average prices for the top 20 most searched-for cars on the AA Cars platform rose by just 0.2 percent in Q4 on an annual basis, compared to a 9.2 percent increase in the previous quarter.
This is good news for any drivers in the UK potentially looking to buy a second-hand car this year.
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