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Small pool of second-hand EVs could lock people into petrol cars for years

A new report from The Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit on the UK’s second-hand car market has highlighted a problem caused by the slow roll-out of small and mid-sized EVs in the UK, adding that this could cost drivers £9bn in savings over the coming years.

The problem arises because of the small pool of affordable second-hand EVs in the marketplace. The higher cost of a new electric vehicle will, of necessity, drive the majority of buyers to the second-hand market (in 2021, 82% of all UK car sales were second-hand) where they will find not only a small number of available vehicles but that their scarcity is keeping the price up.

black and silver car steering wheel

The report reveals that only 4% of second-hand vehicles are electric, whereas they currently make up 16.6% of cars on the road.

It appears the enthusiastic take-up of EVs has confounded many expectations and taken manufacturers  by surprise. A 2017 report predicted 10 million annual EV sales by 2030, a figure likely to be exceeded this year.

The report considered the cost implications of driving a petrol car over versus a comparable EV. Setting a Nissan Leaf against a Nissan Juke they found that the owner of the electric Leaf could expect to save more than £8,000 in total ownership costs over the 10 years of the vehicle’s expected lifespan.

The Government’s proposals under the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate are that 22% of a manufacturer’s sales next year should be electric, rising to 100% in 2035. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders however have suggested increasing the 2024 figure to 30% and extrapolating that rise through subsequent years.  This mandate would put more electric cars onto the road quicker, leading to a more rapid expansion of the second-hand EV market.

The report says: ‘A potential risk in not introducing a higher level of mandate could be to limit EV supply to the UK, stunting the growth of the second-hand market. With global demand for EVs likely to exceed global supply for some time despite manufacturing capacity growing fast, the UK could find itself in competition with the EU which is also looking to introduce some form of mandate.’

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