As petrol stations in parts of the country started running out of fuel on Friday, business and footfall at electric car dealerships up and down the UK started soaring. Many EV dealerships have already claimed that the weekend of 24th & 25th September was their busiest ever, and interest does not appear to be dying down.
A source at Mercedes’s EQ Sales Team has said that the diary for the coming month is booked up with test drives. “People buy electric cars for environmental reasons, for cost-saving reasons and because the technology’s great,” he said. “But Friday was one of those moments where people said, ‘Do you know what, this is a sign that we need to go electric’.”
EVA England, a non-profit representing new and prospective EV drivers, reports a rise in electric car inquiries and in interest at EV dealers, particularly in the last week. While scenes of chaos play out at petrol stations across the country amid shortages, for many electric vehicle (EV) dealers the fuel crisis has led to an unexpected surge in inquiries and sales.
Ben Strzalko, the owner of Electric Cars UK in Leyland, Lancashire, said that as a small business it would take a few months to feel the knock-on effect of the fuel crisis on sales. But every time there are problems with petrol or diesel, he said it acted as “one more tick for people making that transition to electric cars”. He said “a lot of electric car owners will be chuffed to bits this last week” being able to plug in their cars at home. And as an EV driver himself, he admitted feeling a little smug as he drove past queues of 20 cars outside petrol stations over the weekend in his Tesla.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reported “bumper growth” in the sale of plug-in cars in July, with battery electric vehicles comprising 9% of sales. Plug-in hybrids accounted for 8% of sales and hybrid electric vehicles nearly 12%. Also in July, more electric vehicles were registered than diesel for the second consecutive month.
The UK has pledged to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and of new hybrids by 2035.
Warren Philips, the volunteer communities’ director at EVA England, said the tipping point for EVs had already been reached but the fuel crisis “underlines how electric cars could work for the majority of people”.
He added: “The interest is already there, this just adds to it. And going forward with things like Cop26, with the climate crisis, with the cost of fuel probably going to rise … people will start looking at electric cars where you just skip that entire step.”
Were you one of the many thousands who flocked to EV Dealerships across the country last weekend? If you are, we’d love to hear from you with a view to looking after your insurance requirements….