Online motor sales sites have tracked huge spikes in electric car interest in recent days, with panic buying of petrol potentially triggering the ‘most influential switching event ever’.
Hundreds of thousands of commuters unable to fill up on Monday were forced to work from home, while some taxi drivers were unable to hit the road as forecourts started to run out of petrol and diesel.
Scenes of enormous tailbacks outside filling stations and motorists filling jerry cans have dominated the national media since Friday, when motorists began to rush to the pumps amidst concerns about the lack of HGV drivers to deliver supplies of fuel.
For some, it could be the tipping point for their intentions to ditch their internal-combustion-engine cars and get behind the wheel of EVs.
Has the last few days of petrol panic buying changed your mind about EVs? As an electric Tesla is photographed driving past a queue of cars waiting to fill up at a BP station in Peterborough, online retailers suggest the recent crisis could trigger many to switch to battery models now
The bedlam witnessed in recent days has sparked a massive upsurge in demand for electric cars, with the UK’s biggest automotive marketplace, Auto Trader, claiming that electric car advert views have skyrocketed as more Britons toy with the idea of making the switch well ahead of the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel models in 2030.
‘We are all familiar with the idea of range anxiety, but the events of the past few days mean we are entering the age of fuel anxiety,’ said Ian Plummer, commercial director, Auto Trader.
‘We have seen a massive surge in consumer engagement for electric cars on our marketplace over the weekend.
‘Not only did the number of advert views for new and used electric models increase a record 28 per cent and 61 per cent respectively versus the previous weekend, but we also saw a huge uplift in the number of people sending enquiries to retailers, with one sent every two minutes.
‘This suggests that people aren’t simply flirting with the idea of electric but have been encouraged to actively pursue a purchase.’
For some, the last few days of fuel shortages at filling stations could be the tipping point for their intentions to ditch their internal-combustion-engine cars and switch to EVs, according to new and used vehicle retailers
Auto Trader said advert views for second-hand electric models rose 61% over the weekend as more drivers appear tempted by the prospect of charging at home and avoiding petrol stations
Motor sales platform carwow also claims to have experienced an ‘unprecedented boom’ in people looking to switch to electric vehicles, with online searches increasing by 28 per cent on Friday – when panic buying began – to 43 per cent on Saturday and as high as 56 per cent by Sunday.
Sepi Arani, carwow’s director of trade, said: ‘The fuel supply crisis and the scenes of panic at the pumps could prove to be the most influential switching event ever, with more people than ever considering switching to electric.
‘The levels of demand for EVs through carwow this weekend have been completely unprecedented and are genuine proof that more people want to make the switch,’ he adds.
‘After a weekend of queuing, frustration and hysteria, having the option to charge your vehicle from the comfort of your own home, or from a public charging point, seems like bliss for more and more people.
‘What’s more, with second-hand car prices rocketing, there’s really never been a better time to sell your car and make the switch to electric – you’ll get a great price for your current vehicle, you’ll be more than ready for the NetZero changes that are inevitably coming, and you’ll never have to worry about a fuel shortage again.
‘We’ve also seen a huge spike – 94 per cent compared to last week – of people researching EV ownership and reviewing our electric vehicles advice hub, researching the range of vehicles, finding out about home charging and searching for their local charging points.’
Hundreds of thousands of commuters unable to fill up on Monday were forced to work from home while some taxi drivers were unable to hit the road as forecourts started to run out of petrol and diesel
Sepi Arani, carwow’s director of trade, said the fuel supply crisis and the scenes of panic at the pumps could end up becoming the ‘most influential switching event ever’
EVs and PHEVs outsell diesels in Europe in August
Official figures collated from 26 European markets show that pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids outsold new diesel cars across the continent for the first time on record.
A sharp uptick in demand last month saw these plug-in vehicles post their second highest ever monthly market share, making up 21% of all cars registered.
They combined to outsell diesel vehicles by 10,100 units.
Demand was particularly strong for the electric versions of the Fiat 500, Peugeot 208, Hyundai Kona, Opel Corsa and Kia Niro, in addition to the Volkswagen ID.3 – Europe’s top-selling EV during the month.
Additional research by the energy team at Uswitch claimed there had been a 91 per cent rise in searches for electric cars on Monday alone, with the biggest spikes recorded in Cheshire.
Further analysis of Google search data by Carguide.co.uk also claims that online searches for electric cars in the UK on Friday ‘exploded’ by 16 times the average daily volumes.
It says an ongoing petrol station fuel shortage is likely to accelerate this trend of UK drivers considering an alternative to internal combustion engine-powered cars.
‘This trend will likely continue, as more and more people become conscious of their viability, and almost every major manufacturer is committed to electrifying their vehicle portfolio – with the electric car ranges and capabilities increasing almost exponentially as new models come to market,’ a spokesperson for the website told This is Money.
Vehicle leasing firms also reported similar cases of rising demand for EVs in recent days, with interest clearly spiking as a result of the shortages of fuel at the pumps.
LeaseLoco said that on its site in August, EVs represented 25 per cent of all searches online.
However, in the last seven days – the majority of them mired by petrol panic buying – that tally has risen to 33 per cent.
LeaseLoco said searches on its site during September showed a rise in EV demand in recent weeks as petrol cars seemed to become less attractive
Auto Trader says the most-viewed car on its site over the weekend was this electric Hyundai Ioniq 5
Second in the list of most viewed motors was the Ford Mustang Mach-E EV (pictured)
Auto Trader says that four of the five most searched for cars on its website on Saturday and Sunday were electric models, with Hyundai’s new Ioniq 5 coming out top, followed by the Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV.
While these reports might have eco activists rubbing their hands together in glee, Ian Plummer warned that significant EV hurdles might not translate directly from interest to purchases.
‘Despite this boost in activity, it’s unlikely to represent a major step towards the Government’s Road to Zero ambitions. That’s because electric cars are prohibitively expensive for the majority of people, and despite the significant increase in range performance among new models, capable of reaching around 250 miles on a single charge, concerns of an inadequate charging infrastructure remain,’ he explains.
‘To make them a genuinely viable option for mainstream buyers, we need more commitment to provide greater incentives to deal with the upfront cost, as well as more investment to improve the national infrastructure to support both those rare long journeys, and those without access to home charging.
‘Concern about petrol availability won’t end when the pumps start up again, and so this increased interest represents a unique opportunity to inform, to excite and to incentivise car owners to make the switch.
‘If the Government is serious about reaching its 2030 targets, then it is one it can ill afford to miss.’
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