How is the UK's EV market adapting to the ICE ban?

3rd September 2021
Joe Bush

The ICE ban will prohibit the sale of all new petrol and diesel-powered cars from 2030, with all hybrid vehicles to follow in 2035. The ban was originally supposed to begin in 2040, but the UK Government has brought the date forward to reduce carbon emissions and improve the chances that nations will reach net zero by 2050.

Second-hand ICE vehicles can still be sold after these dates, but the hope is that most drivers will begin to make the switch to electric vehicles and drastically reduce the GHGs caused by road traffic. These targets set by the government have been described as ambitious by some.

There is no doubt that EVs are the future, with the technology available to not only match the speed and range of current ICE vehicles but maybe even surpass them. The question is whether the majority of UK drivers are ready to make the change and, if they do, is the infrastructure in place to support it?

What is the current state of the UK’s EV market?

Zero-emission vehicles made up 11% of all UK car sales in 2020, with sales of EVs up 66% from the previous year. According to Next Green Car, there werenearly 260,000 pure-electric cars and more than 515,000 plug-in vehicles on the road in the UK as of May 2021. This means EVs are still in the significant minority, with over 32.5 million cars registered in the UK.

While the sales figures of new EVs are promising, most car sales in a year are for used vehicles and, for a while yet, that market will still be dominated by ICE vehicles (and unaffected by the ban).

It is projected that, by 2024, the production costs of EVs will drop to the same as ICE vehicles, with them becoming cheaper to manufacture soon after. This should eventually trickle down and result in more affordable EVs entering the second-hand market too.

What is the current state of the UK’s charging network?

Most of the concern surrounding the government’s 2030 target is the current lack of charging points in the UK. The most efficient way to charge electric vehicles is to top-up the charge when possible, such as when parked outside a supermarket or at a rapid charge point along the motorway and leaving it plugged into a home charging point overnight.

Currently, the charging network isn’t sufficient to provide drivers with easy access to fast, reliable charging points, and there isn’t yet a concrete plan for how drivers who can’t have home charging points installed (such as those who live in flats, apartment blocks or don’t have designated parking space) will be able to charge their vehicles at home.

The UK’s current charging network isn’t currently enough to support the amount of EVs predicted to be on the roads by 2030 and, unless there is a dramatic change, drivers who may have bought a new EV might opt for a second-hand ICE vehicle instead.

What is the government doing?

While the government’s goals may be ambitious, they are willing to invest in the technology. The UK government has pledged over £30 million investment into the development of EV batteries and hydrogen vehicles, and there is a further £20 million available to boost the number of on-street EV charge points. There are also incentives for homeowners to make the EV switch, such as grants to help with the cost of installing a home charging point.

The increasing year-on-year sales of EVs is also very encouraging, as it demonstrates the population is embracing the technology. The biggest roadblock is currently the limitations to the UK’s charging network, where significant investment will be required, quickly, in order for us to successfully move away from petrol and diesel vehicles.

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