The EV tipping point – just when will it happen?

The majority of motorists accept that plugs will replace petrol over the coming decade. But at what point will the market tip over and EVs become the norm?

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The birth of the electric car market in the UK may have been a slow burner, but EV sales in recent times have turned a corner, with the majority of motorists in the UK accepting that plugs will replace petrol over the coming decade.

But at what point will the market tip over and EVs become the norm? Given the UK government’s plan to outlaw the sale of internal combustion-only cars by 2030, it’s a situation that’s evolving rapidly.

At present, EVs are generally a lot more expensive than petrol models, meaning they have a limited market penetration in the UK. In May 2021, the market share for EVs sat at just over seven percent, which may not sound much but is a seven-fold increase over the same month in 2018.

The EV ‘tipping point’, where more than half of the cars sold in Europe are plug-in models, will come as soon as 2023.

And as demand for vehicle battery increases, they will become much cheaper. According to the US news agency Bloomberg, the net cost of a battery has already dropped by 80% since 2010 and is only heading one way as EVs become more and more popular.

According to David Pugh, marketing director for MG Motor, the tipping point could soon be upon us: “With the MG ZS EV and MG5 EV, we have two of the most affordable EVs on the market and we’re seeing that when costs aren’t prohibitive, more and more buyers are enthusiastic about making the switch, especially now that an electric vehicle’s range isn’t that different from a petrol car.

“So far this year, around a third of our sales volume has come from plug-in models, much higher than the industry average, proving that affordable EVs are very much in demand.”

The EV tipping point has already been passed in Norway, the first country to see the switch. There, tax breaks mean electric cars are cheaper. The country’s market share of battery-powered cars soared to 54 percent in 2020, compared with less than 5 percent in most European nations.

But according to an RAC poll carried out earlier this year, only nine percent of British drivers say their next car will be electric. “The single biggest barrier to a driver choosing an electric car has to be cost,” said Rod Dennis of the RAC.

Yet when people do make that change, they are generally very pleased to have done so. In a survey carried out by Nissan, which makes the all-electric LEAF, 89.1% of those who’d bought one of the company’s EVs said the switch was the right decision and that they’d never go back, while 97% said the change from petrol to electric was easier than anticipated.

“With this new research, we’re seeing first-hand that European drivers are embracing electrification. Just as they are continuing to explore what electric vehicles have to offer, we are committed to showing them the vast benefits of electric mobility and how easy actually it is to make the switch,” said Arnaud Charpentier, Region Vice President, Product Strategy and Pricing, Nissan AMIEO.

The Nissan research also showed that the three main reasons why drivers made the switch to EV were a sense of being environmentally friendly, reduced fuel costs and the smoothness and performance of electric cars compared to their petrol equivalents.

The carmaker also says it believes the EV ‘tipping point’, where more than half of the cars sold in Europe are plug-in models, will come as soon as 2023.

If that is the case, then you need to make sure your dealership is ready – and that includes everything from staff training, to understanding home charging, aftersales, servicing, and also educating buyers on how to protect their investment with products such as Autoglym LifeShine.

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