Electric cars set to treble market share, but UK could run out without new rules

  • EU rules are driving electric cars towards 10% of sales, and 15% in 2021
  • But UK supply likely to dry up without new regulations

Electric cars will treble their market share in the European market, including the UK, this year as a result of EU car CO2 targets, new analysis shows. Despite the pandemic, EV sales have surged since 1 January, just as the emissions standards kicked in, and will reach 10% this year and 15% in 2021. But Transport & Environment (T&E), which analysed sales in the first half of 2020, said the UK supply of electric cars is likely to dry up next year in the absence of British regulations equivalent to those in Europe.

Greg Archer, UK director at T&E, said: “Electric car sales are booming thanks to emissions standards. Next year, one in every seven cars sold in Europe will be a plug-in. European manufacturers have EVs to sell, but from January they’ll have no incentive to sell them in the UK unless the government requires them to do so.”

Carmakers must meet targets to reduce the average emissions of the cars they sell in Europe, or pay fines. But from 2021, UK sales of EVs will not help manufacturers achieve EU standards. The government has so far failed to make parliamentary time available for equivalent new UK regulations to encourage sales here. These must be introduced by the end of October to be in place by January and maintain supplies of electric cars to the UK. 

T&E analysis shows that the current draft regulation contains errors that will lead to about a fifth less EVs being sold in the UK than was likely if it had remained a part of the existing EU scheme. This is despite government claims that the rules are equivalent to those in the EU.

Greg Archer concluded: “The electric car is becoming mainstream but we risk turning off the tap in Britain. Carmakers will prioritise EV sales in markets where laws and tax breaks encourage them most, but the UK’s proposed standards are too weak and maybe too late. Government needs to quickly introduce regulations equivalent to the EU’s in 2021, or demand for electric cars will outstrip available supply and drivers will be left with long waits to secure their new electric car which will be more expensive.”

The government has announced it plans to phase out the sale of all new cars with engines by 2035 at the latest and may bring the date forward as early as 2030. But without these regulations, the growing market will stall.

Read more:
Analysis: UK Car CO2 Regulations: Going nowhere fast

Report: Mission (almost) accomplished - Carmakers' race to meet the 2020/21 CO2 targets, and the EU electric cars market

Contact the press team

Eoin Bannon
Media Manager
+32 (0)487 717296 
eoin.bannon@transportenvironment.org

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