In 2011, Brits bought just over 1.9 million vehicles. That year, only one of the 10 best-selling vehicles was bigger than a compact car and it was ranked 9th with less than 40,000 units sold. There is no doubt, then, that the UK has a crush on small cars, which is understandable considering high gas prices. Although Brits still haven’t particularly fallen for electric vehicles (EVs), the sales of these small, fuel-efficient automobiles have constantly been increasing. What are their prospects for 2013?
Since January 2011, UK citizens purchasing one of the following ten cars are eligible for a grant covering 25% of the car’s total cost, up to £5,000: Chevrolet Volt, Citroen CZero, Mia, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Nissan Leaf, Peugeot iOn, Renault Fluence ZE, Smart fortwo electric drive, Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, and Vauxhall Ampera. As of December 31, 2012, more than 3,000 claims had been made by citizens wishing to benefit from this program.
The good news is that the biggest chunk of these claims was made in the second year of the program’s availability. Although this is not surprising, because people need to carefully think about whether they want to purchase an EV or not and then consider the different options, the fact that a lot more people decided to make the move in 2012 than in 2011 may be of good omen for 2013, since the grants will continue to be available.
But beyond the state’s financial support, there also are two other factors that are likely to keep bending the EV sales’ curb upwards. The first one is the rather stable pricing of EVs for 2013. For instance, the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid’s cost will only be a few hundred dollars higher than it was last year. Even better, the Brits’ favourite EV, the Nissan LEAF, will feature a £2,500 drop in its retail price. This new price, combined with the government’s grant, could very wall spark the interest of still-ambivalent motorists.
Another big player in the blossoming world of EVs, the Chevrolet Volt, is likely to maintain the very same price tag as in 2012. In effect, Chevrolet recently announced that their baby’s cost would remain the same in the United States, where it was the most sold EV last year. If this promise also holds for the UK, then, that is another good news.
The other factor that could work in the direction of increased EV sales is the bandwagon effect. As more people buy EVs, more people are tempted to do the same. Last year, the total sales of hybrids in the UK since their launching at the beginning of the 2000s reached 100,000 units. As the visibility of green cars increase, motorists are brought to think that these vehicles could be suitable for them as well.
Coupled with the £5,000 government incentive and the Nissan LEAF lower price for 2013, the bandwagon effect could catch on and bring numerous new motorists to opt for change. Although there is no guarantee that such a scenario will happen, key elements seem to be reunited. We will have to wait a few more months, however, so that this year’s sales statistics can be compared with those from last year on a period long enough to see some kind of trend emerge.
About the author:
Alexandre Duval is a freelance blogger for www.autogalleryofwinnipeg.com that offers used cars for sale in Winnipeg. He is also currently completing his master’s degree in political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal.