Encouraging signs as used EV market reaches record levels – but charging infrastructure must keep pace

The used electric vehicle market continues to grow at pace as prices approach parity with their internal combustion equivalents – sparking renewed interest among buyers, writes Fraser Brown of automotive consultancy MotorVise.

During the second quarter of 2023, sales of used EVs increased by 81.8% to 30,645 units, which represents a record 1.7% share of the market.

This may still seem a modest amount but the direction of (silent) travel is clear. Add to this the fact that fleet operators are driving increased sales of new EVs as they continue to convert their fleets to zero emission.

Of the 143,921 new cars registered last month, 23,010 were BEV, an increase of 87.9% which is a market share of 16%, according to the SMMT.

The situation has largely been brought about by the fact that the automotive supply chain is continuing to return to something approaching normality – which means larger volumes of EVs emerging off production lines and manufacturers launching new models, many of which are more keenly priced.

The motoring public is demonstrating a greater acceptance of EVs, particularly in the used market where the economics begin to make sense. Cars travel an average 8.4 miles per day in the UK, well within the capabilities of EVs with the most limited of ranges.

It makes financial sense for those able to charge their EVs at home. Using a domestic tariff, it can cost as little as £7.50 for a full overnight charge.

Meanwhile, fleet managers’ enthusiasm for converting to EVs is based not only upon sustainability but reduced operating costs and greater efficiency. In addition, many corporate companies are asking their supply chain to demonstrate the ways in which they are reducing their carbon footprint.

The renewed interest in EV is also reflected in the high level of interest in MotorVise’s bespoke electric vehicle sales events and its electric vehicle sales incentive system as dealerships across the UK seek to increase their share of this growing market.

However, the transition to EV still faces a major hurdle in the form of a lack of public charging infrastructure. Around 40% of households don’t have a driveway or off-street parking, which makes them dependent on expensive public charging tariffs.

According to Zapmap there are 45,737 electric vehicle charging points in 26,805 locations. While a significant increase, it still lags far behind the charging infrastructure required that will generate competition that will drive down prices.

Meanwhile a recent survey by Vauxhall found 70 per cent of local authorities have no official plans to install charge points in residential areas and that 45% of the responding 298 authorities said they did not intend to install any this year. It added that the remaining 55 per cent reported that just 14,188 charge points are due to be installed by the end of 2023.

The Government must get a stronger grip. Simply setting a target of reaching 300,000 public charge points by 2030 and leaving it largely in the hands of hard-pressed local authorities does not seem to be working.

It must display a stronger commitment to a faster rollout and publish a roadmap of targets or risk failing to remove the biggest barrier to EV adoption and the decarbonisation of mass transport.

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