UK drivers abandon plans to buy new electric cars and stick with petrol and diesel despite ban

Electric car charging

Drivers are choosing to buy petrol, diesel or hybrid cars instead

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 20/11/2023

- 13:30

Most new electric cars cost more than £30,000

New data has shown that one-third of UK car buyers have abandoned plans to make the transition to electric vehicles because of cost concerns.

Around 36 per cent of people who recently purchased a new car and were considered going electric gave up on the plans because of the cost of living crisis.

The drivers instead went for a petrol, diesel or hybrid model, citing the current cost benefits of avoiding electric.

People looking to buy a new car are also questioning the decision to go electric, with 42 per cent listing financial reasons for not choosing an EV.

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This includes the rate of inflation, energy costs, interest-rate pressures and high list prices.

The overwhelming majority of new electric vehicles still have an upfront cost of £30,000, which, for many people, remains unattainable.

Even used car prices for electric vehicles are expensive, with data from AutoTrader showing the average cost at £31,787.

What Car? editor Steve Huntingford, commented on the data, saying drivers would be put off by expensive costs, but there was room for optimism.

He said: “Our latest research shows that concerns around the cost of purchasing and running an EV are at the forefront or motorists’ minds.

“However, the good news is that car makers are responding: the mystery shopping data for our New Car Buying service shows discounts on EV models have increased by more than 200 per cent since the beginning of the year.”

More than half (58 per cent) of drivers said they were delaying the choice to buy any new car by at least six months or more.

There is still interest from motorists in second-hand vehicles, with 39 per cent looking for more affordable prices.

The average price of a used petrol or diesel car stands at £17,641, which is a drop of 1.7 per cent compared to the same time last year.

Almost one-third of Britons said their decision not to buy a new car has been as a result of the cost of living crisis.

Steve Huntingford added: “With the introduction of the Government’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate from January 2024 meaning manufacturers have to ensure 22 per cent of their new car sales are electric, we expect to see even more generous discounts.

“Conversely, motorists can expect to see smaller discounts – and less choice – when it comes to petrol and diesel models, as car manufacturers get to grips with the new requirements.”

Car manufacturers will need to hit a 100 per cent annual target of zero emission vehicle sales by 2035 after the Prime Minister’s announcement in September.

Rishi Sunak unveiled plans to delay the deadline to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030 to 2035.


Electric car charging

The average cost of a used electric car is £31,787


Two-thirds of all new car sales will need to be zero emission by 2029, rising quite rapidly to 80 per cent in just over six years from now.

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