One in three car sales in the UK could be fully electric vehicles (EVs) by the end of 2023

One in three of all car sales in the UK could be electric vehicles (EVs) by end of 2023 according to Carbon Tracker Initiative. This is the independent financial think tank that carries out in-depth analysis on the impact of the energy transition on capital markets and the potential investment in high-cost, carbon-intensive fossil fuels.

In 2022 electric vehicle registrations continued to grow, reaching 267,206 and accounting for 16.6 per cent of all car sales in the UK. This was up from 190,727 in 2021 where electric cars accounted for 11.6 per cent of the market. 

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In the UK during December, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) claimed their largest-ever monthly market share outselling more than petrol vehicles for the first time. In December an impressive 42,285 battery electric vehicles were sold. This accounts for 32.9% of all vehicles sold. In comparison, 42,091 petrol vehicles were sold in December in the UK accounting for 32.2% of sales. 

The recent growth of electric vehicles is down to several reasons as people become switched on to zero emissions motoring. This includes greater education about electric vehicles, a wider range of models available, cheaper running costs and the obvious green credentials with zero emission. Plus, policy, including the ban on the sale of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in the UK in 2030, is helping. 

With this in mind, the will be developing its theory of one in three cars being electric by the end of 2023 using its S-Curve Tracker via an ongoing blog:

“Tracking the S-Curve’ will be a regular blog aimed at providing insight on the transition to electric transport. The adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) is happening right now, at a rapid pace.This evolving blog will track and predict new BEV sales versus an S-Curve growth cycle, and provide analysis, commentary, and expert insight on sector and regional trends. 

“As transport emissions globally amount for more than 20% of total emissions, on a par with global power emissions, this BEV transformation is one of the most important required to create the energy transition, and generate new efficient low-emission, lower-cost and sustainable energy growth technologies.

“The blog is a product of ongoing collaboration between Carbon Tracker and New AutoMotive (a non-profit, independent transport research organisation). As of December 2022, the two companies are working together on research projects and will use their combined expertise to enhance investors’, policymakers’ and other stakeholders’ understanding of the automotive energy transition.”

The S-Curve

In the first edition of the blog, the Carbon Tracker Initiative talk about the UK electric vehicle market climbing the S-Curve. 

Carbon Tracker Initiative said: “The S-curve is a well-established phenomenon where a successful new technology reaches a certain catalytic tipping point (typically 5-10% market share), and then rapidly reaches a high market share (i.e 50%+) within just a couple more years once past this tipping point.” 

Writers, Ben Scott and Harry Benham, go on to outline how global sales of battery electric vehicles (BEV)s have shown a sharp upturn over the past four to five years, with sales growing 10 times over the past five years to reach over six per cent of the market share globally. Overall growth for 2022 is excepted to reach almost nine per cent representing an increase of around 50-60 per cent. 

They say this shows all the hallmarks of an S-curve growth trend and will likely mean BEVs will each 50 per cent market penetration by the mid-2020s. They say the alternative model of slower, more linear growth they outline would be a risky investment approach to take, hence their emphasis on the non-linear S-Curve as the model for future market direction. 

UK Growth

While overall UK car sales fell by three per cent and internal combustion engine sales were down by eight per cent in 2022, BEV sales bucked the trend and registrations grew by an impressive 38 per cent. 

This first blog in the series focuses on the high-level “S-curve” of demand for BEVs in the UK. It outlines how BEVs, from two-wheelers to passenger cars, to commercial and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), are at the steep climb of the S-Curve. 

Following the trajectory of the S-Curve and based on their short-term forecast modelling, it is expected that the market share of new BEV sales in the UK could reach 33 per cent or one in three by the end of 2023. 

This is an impressive figure and one that demands attention from both the electric vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in terms of supply and the need for infrastructure to support this continued rapid rise. The full blog and explanation of these conclusions can be read at the Carbon Tracker Initiative’s Tracking the S-Curve blog here.

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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