Poring over official figures will give encouragement to the electric vehicle community about the future, but the path to EV mass adoption will have many twists and turns
A few statistics have caught my eye recently: two official; one personal. The first were the new car registration figures from the SMMT that were issued at the start of October. It will come as little surprise to those in the industry that they underlined the increasing influence of EVs in the car market.
Between January and September, the market share for EVs stood at 14.5% (with plug-in hybrids taking a further 6.1%) with sales that were up more than 40% on 2021. Ironically, that figure was almost matched by diesels going in the opposite direction, down by 43% on 2021 – and now accounting for just 5.5% of new car sales.
No matter how you feel as a fleet manager about EVs, their continuing climb both up the sales charts and the order of importance for many customers will have to have a bearing on your choices going forward, no matter how much you might have resisted so far.
That’s underlined by that 5.5% diesel market share too. Not so long ago, diesel was the obvious and default choice for most fleets. And yet for all of the emissions-meeting technology invested in by car manufacturers, it’s now a minority choice at the absolute best. That’s at the forefront of my mind as I keep passing my local petrol station and noting their prices.
Not so long ago, diesel was the obvious and default choice for most fleets. And yet for all of the emissions-meeting technology invested in by car manufacturers, it’s now a minority choice at the absolute best
At winter we’re used to seeing diesel prices climb, but the differential at this particular station between petrol and diesel has regularly stood at 30 pence per litre. It’s such a big difference, I’ve made a mental note to keep checking it every time I drive past (don’t write in, I know I need to get a better hobby!). To put that into perspective, it means that to fill a 50-litre tank, a diesel driver will be spending an extra £15 each and every time. You need to have an iron-like certainty of that additional fuel economy from a modern diesel.
Yes, that might be an extreme case but, even so, the least I’ve seen the difference has been 17p, which soon adds up with every tank of fuel. And that’s before you even get to the question mark over the future resale value of a diesel and you start to multiply those numbers for any fleet.
The last statistic was a return to those SMMT figures I mentioned earlier. While sales of plug-in hybrids alone have dropped by 15% so far this year, sales of all plug-in vehicles (EVs and PHEVs) now stand at almost a quarter of a million alone this year. To put that into perspective of just how fast the market is growing, it means that UK drivers and fleets have now registered more than a million plug-in vehicles – a quarter of which have been in this year alone.
Any fleet managers who were transported in a time machine from 2002 – or even 2012 – to today probably wouldn’t believe how rapidly the car market has swivelled towards electrification. Opinions of many fleet managers might not have quite matched the speed of that change, but the smarter ones are starting to catch up on the savings to be had as more and more drivers opt for a plug rather than a pump.
Peter McDonald is mobility director at Ohme. Prior to his current role, he spent two decades working for automotive manufacturers including Nissan, SEAT and the wider Volkswagen Group.