Electric shock: 6 reasons the UK EV market is looking bright

“The time is right for electric cars – in fact the time is critical,” said former Nissan CEO and Mistubishi chair Carlos Ghosn, way back in 2009. Some 14 years later, his statement about electric cars is truer now than ever before.

Despite concern about affordability and controversial policies such Ulez putting those with older, more polluting petrol and diesel cars at a disadvantage – as well as fundamental concerns such as a worryingly small charger network – as of July 2023 there were more than 840,000 electric cars on UK roads than at the start of the year.  and a further 520,000 hybrid cars.

This boost comes in the face of anti-EV propaganda by fossil fuel conglomerates such as ExxonMobil who recently launched (and then swiftly deleted) an advert which showed motorists connected to heavy electric wires holding them back from living their lives before escaping to ‘freedom’ in a petrol-powered car.

The number of electric vehicles in the UK is set to grow even further; by 2040 there could be 25.5 million hybrid or electric vehicles on our roads. From the charger network to government policy, what’s really behind the recent boom in EV sales?

Second-hand EV market boost

The first mass market 100% electric car, the Nissan LEAF, came out in December 2010. Thirteen years on and with attitude around the once-expensive cars beginning to change, we are starting to see an increasing number of second-hand hybrid and electric cars beginning to hit the market.

Octopus Electric Vehicles recently launched a salary sacrifice scheme (which works something like the well-known cycle to work scheme) to help workers purchase second-hand electric vehicles. Under the scheme users can get popular electric vehicles like a Renault Zoe or Peugeot e-208 for just £300 a month, making the cars more affordable to a wider range of people.

More chargers are being rolled out

In a recent survey, half (50%) of UK drivers surveyed worried about getting an EV charger – with two out of five motorists (44%) saying they don’t know how to find or use public chargers and a similar number (46%) expressing worries about using faulty chargers.

However, more initiatives are being rolled out regarding electric vehicle chargers – for example the supermarket Aldi is partnering with Shell to install new rapid 50kwh chargers at eleven of its stores – with plans to expand the partnership further following the initial installation.

Consumer concern in an era of ‘global boiling’

It may have been the UN secretary general António Guterres who said the “era of global boiling has arrived”, but consumers are also becoming increasingly aware of the urgency of the situation.

According to recent data from Swytch, consumers are willing to pay up to 25% more for sustainable products, with many planning to make the switch to more sustainable modes of transport – including e-bikes or walking.

With more than more than 80% of UK adults making at least some changes to their lifestyle to help tackle environmental issues – and with electric vehicles offering a significantly less polluting option – it’s no huge surprise that a new EV is registered every 60 seconds.


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A looming election

Governmental climate advisor the Climate Change Committee has been critical of many of the UK’s policies – with one of its main concerns being a lack of investment in green jobs, including those across the EV industry.

Political pressure to create more jobs in the sector is growing, with the Labour Party’s shadow net zero secretary Ed Miliband highlighting that “the drive to create net zero is not some climate luxury”.

Ahead of next year’s general election, it’s worth noting that the government have announced a ZEV mandate which will see the government mandate that 80% of new cars sold will be zero emissions by 2030.

But consumers might just phase out the sale of petrol vehicles all by themselves, well before the government’s deadline of 2030.

A new EV battery gigafactory

Last month, JJaguar owner Tata announced that it is spending £4 billion on a flagship electric car battery factory in Somerset. The new 40GWh factory will help secure UK produced batteries for Jaguar Land Rover and other electric vehicles, with the deal expected to help the UK keep its place in the increasingly competitive EV market.

A competitive global electric car market

And perhaps it’s that global competition that is ultimately fuelling the boom. Amid fresh fears that Chinese EVs might be used for spying purposes, China continues to be at the helm of the electric vehicle race, boasting an impressive 132% increase in EV exports year-on-year in 2023.

All the more reason for UK policymakers to continue to push the market at home even further forward…

EnergyFeatureNet zeroPolicyTransport

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