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Semiconductor shortage masking true extent of EV demand

Fast-rising electric vehicle take-up could rocket further still in the coming months on the back of the current fuel crisis and as the supply chain issues ease up.

Carwow has reported that 21% of all car sales concluded via its website and app during September were for BEVs, 6% were PHEVs, and 11% were hybrids

According to new and used car marketplace Carwow, the ongoing semiconductor shortage is masking the true level of EV demand and the latest registration figures are ‘just the tip of the iceberg’.

New figures from the SMMT reveal that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) accounted for 15.2% of new car registrations last month, while plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) took 6.4% and hybrids 11.6%.

But Carwow has reported that 21% of all car sales concluded via its website and app during September were for BEVs, 6% were PHEVs, and 11% were hybrids. These figures are significantly higher than in any previous month and also much higher than has been seen across the UK’s new car market as a whole.

More significant still, however, is the fact that enquiries for BEVs and PHEVs via the Carwow website and app during September rose by 550%, year-on-year – showing the impact of the fuel pump chaos.

Demand has been shifting rapidly away from internal combustion engine models, with plug-in car enquiries representing 22% of all new car enquiries on the Carwow site last month compared to just 6% in September 2020. This figure rose to 31% during the last week of September.

The ongoing fuel crisis is accelerating demand for EVs – searches for new EVs on Carwow increased by 28% alone on Friday 24 September compared to the previous week, were up 43% on Saturday 25th and went as high as 56% by Sunday 26th.

If consumer demand continues at its current rate, Carwow predicts that half of new cars sold through its marketplace will be electric or hybrid-powered by the end of the year.

“The year-on-year growth of EV enquiries, configurations and sales are proof that the electric revolution is upon us,” said Sepi Arani, commercial director of Carwow. “As well as being facilitated by a growth in choice, this was driven in no small part by the faster availability of EV and hybrid stock. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“The fuel shortage has completely changed the playing field for EV sales, creating a seismic shift in consumer demand which will be here to stay. This is great news for dealerships with robust, long-term EV strategies, a potentially faster return on investment for manufacturers and a quicker route to net zero.”

What Car? also said the fuel shortage is acting as a catalyst for electric vehicle interest.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of the 1,186 petrol and diesel owners it surveyed are considering an electric or hybrid vehicle as their next car as a result of the ongoing fuel shortage, according to its research. One in 10 said they were now more likely to buy a fully electric model, while 13% were now more likely to consider a hybrid.

What Car?’s research found 49% of buyers now consider an electric vehicle are looking to contact a dealer about a hybrid or fully electric car by the end of the year.

Of all the petrol and diesel owners surveyed, 36% told What Car? they had found it difficult to fuel their vehicle in recent weeks due to the shortage, while 31% said they had now reduced the amount of driving they do. Nearly half (47%) said they rely on their car for work.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.

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