The UK’s journey to mainstream adoption of electric cars is accelerating fast, with annual EV sales surging tenfold in the wake of the Covid pandemic.
In fact, research from our data insights team shows that annual finance cases for electric vehicles (BEV/PHEV/HEV) surged 1062% from July 2019 to July 2022.
And the percentage of electric cars that we’ve financed as a proportion of all vehicles in our parc has increased from 1% in 2019 to 7% this year.
This trend is all the more impressive considering the level of volatililty the automotive industry has faced in recent times, with EV sales increasing in spite of Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and the semiconductor shortage.
So, given the surging popularity of electric cars, we set out to find the town or city that’s seen the fastest acceleration of EV adoption.
And we can officially crown Newcastle-upon-Tyne as the nation’s top EV hotspot, with more electric cars financed in the North East city in 2022 than anywhere else in the UK!
The top five was completed by Southampton, Guildford, Reading and Northern Ireland.
Are there new EV trends developing in the UK?
Whilst we’ve found that driving habits have changed over the past two years – research shows four in 10 haven’t driven for work at all since January 2021 and 87% are driving fewer than 10,000 miles annually for leisure* – contract preferences remain largely unchanged.
For example, an average contract term in 2019 was 41 months and this has risen slightly to 43 months in 2022. Similarly, consumers are still financing vehicles based on an average mileage of 11,000 miles per year.
However, our data insights team suggest that the nation has become more invested in green and environmentally-friendly travel over the past two years, with many people changing their attitudes towards sustainable transport in lockdown.
This is evidenced by recent research showing that three in 10 Brits** (31%) say their dream car has now changed from a petrol or diesel car to an electric car since the pandemic.
People are also now more likely to buy an EV (26%)* than use public transport (24%), or buy a petrol or diesel car (19%) compared to before the pandemic.
We can also reveal the most popular EV models we’ve financed this year, too, with more finance cases activated for the Volkswagen ID.3 than any other electric car this year, followed by the Porsche Taycan, Audi e-tron, Volkswagen ID.4 and Audi Q4 e-tron.
What do the experts say?
Quentin Willson, former Top Gear presenter and founder of the FairCharge campaign, said: “We've seen an explosion in EVs in the last two years and in the next four or five years electric cars will become the preferred choice for many. We just need to make sure energy prices stay affordable.
“There are many EVs that now do 200 to 280 miles on a single charge and batteries in some of the earliest EVs are outlasting the chassis of the car. Just look at our roads and you’ll see that hundreds of thousands of EV drivers have folded electric cars into their lives and successfully use them without anxieties.
“The main priority for me as founder FairCharge is to lobby the Government to establish a Charging Charter, which regulates fair costs, a fair experience, fair connectivity and fair reliability across the charging network.
“I’ve had talks with Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport - an EV driver and enthusiast like me - and he agrees we need to offer new EV drivers the best charging experience and most affordable charging costs possible.”
Darren Braybrook, Commercial Development Manager here at Volkswagen Financial Services UK, added: “The UK’s electric car market is in overdrive right now and the rapid acceleration of demand for electromobility is really exciting. However, we haven’t yet reached a critical mass of BEV adoption, where we see the cost of acquiring an electric vehicle come down quickly.
“Affordability is a key issue that the wider industry is working hard to improve as we know that cost is the primary barrier to EV adoption. That in itself is a positive challenge as it means that consumers are already convinced of the benefits of going green, we just need to help customers have better access to these vehicles.”
For more information, visit our dedicated EV Hub.
*The data for this study was collected in March 2022 and comprises responses from 2,032 British respondents.
**The data for this study was collected in August 2022 and comprises responses from 2,040 British respondents.