With the United Kingdom currently engaged in a heated battle over proposed zero-emissions vehicle mandates, automakers have been working to increase the number of EVs on sale in that part of the world. The Blue Oval launched both the Ford Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit in the UK years ago, but thus far, buyers there have been reluctant to hop on the EV bandwagon, in general. As is the case in the U.S., there are many obstacles in the way of EV adoption in the UK, including a lack of incentives and inadequate infrastructure, which has automakers like Ford facing possible fines over low EV market share. Now, the bad news continues, as EV sales in the UK stalled out in 2023, according to Automotive News.
While EV sales in the U.S. continue to grow, that wasn’t necessarily the case in the UK, where numbers remained largely flat year-over-year as EVs accounted for one in six new vehicle purchases – the same as 2022. Overall new vehicle sales increased by 18 percent to 1.9 million units, which is also around 18 percent lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Making matters worse, only one in 11 private consumers purchased an EV last year in the UK, while most sales were spurred on by commercial and government buyers, who are eligible for some enticing incentives. As a result, automakers and lobby groups are asking the government to offer better incentives for private buyers to boost EV sales, including cutting the value-added tax on electric vehicles from 20 percent to 10 percent for a limited period of time, which the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) estimates could result in an additional 270k units being sold over the next three years.
“A mandate can compel supply. It cannot compel demand,” said SMMT CEO Mike Hawes. “For demand to meet those expectations, we do need to look at incentives for the private consumer.” Currently, the UK is the only major European country that doesn’t offer EV purchase incentives for non-commercial buyers.