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Chart of the Week

2020

Every breath you take: Clean Air Day and Electric Vehicle uptake

Katie Hickford Analyst

On Clean Air Day 2020, we reflect on the increasing uptake of electric vehicles (EVs), with record battery EV (BEV) sales in September despite overall car sales going down. This week's 'Chart of the week' explores drivers behind these trends and considers potential longer-term impacts of COVID-19 on EV sales.   Data released this week from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd (SMMT) recorded the lowest September car sales this century at 328,041 vehicles, down 4.4% on September 2019, with the SMMT citing a lack of economic and consumer confidence affecting vehicle sales. Despite this, BEV September registrations reached 21,903 vehicles, almost double the previous record of 11,694 vehicles in March 2020 (Figure 1). A backlog of already ordered vehicles could have contributed to this increase, with previous sales unable to complete while nationwide lockdown restrictions remained. BEV sales in 2020 have also already grown 76.1% on 2019, with a Benefit in Kind company car tax change making BEVs more financially attractive, and new EV models available in 2020, including the Tesla Model 3, the Vauxhall Corsa-e and VW’s ID.3, improving customer choice. Cost parity with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles also continues to improve, largely driven by falling lithium-ion battery prices, which dropped by 87% over 2010-2019, as reported in BloombergNEF’s EV Outlook 2020. COVID-19 may lead to longer term effects that could further increase EV sales, as discussed in the latest edition of our new EV Insight Service. Although there is a limited amount of data, some initial research found that EVs may be a popular choice ...

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