Consumer demand for electric vehicles overtakes diesel for first time

Consumer demand for electric vehicles has overtaken diesel engines for the first time in the new car market, according to Leasing.com – the UK leasing comparison site.

Sales enquiry data from Leasing.com shows consumer demand for electric vehicles – consisting of battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plugin hybrid and hybrid vehicles – has been steadily increasing since the start of the year and has outperformed demand for diesel vehicles throughout the second quarter of 2021.

The UK new car leasing market has been on the rise in the past year, particularly for electric vehicle, as leasing is a cost-effective way for consumers to access the very latest electric powered cars without long-term ownership commitments. BEV demand increased by 129% on Leasing.com in 2020 and accounted for around 10% of total sales enquiries – up from 4% in 20219.

So far in 2021, demand for electric drivetrains has continued on a strong trajectory – BEVs have risen 27% and hybrids by 57%, with the biggest increase being seen in plugin hybrids at 78%. In contrast, petrol vehicles only saw a 3% growth and diesel plummeted by 13%.

Leasing.com expects to see BEVs hit 20% of overall enquires in 2021.

Dave Timmis, Managing Director of Leasing.com, said that whilst the business was not surprised by the figures, it has happened quicker than expected: “We’ve been planning for the UK market to shift towards electric drivetrains, but the rate at which they’ve overtaken diesel has been surprising.

“The rise of electric vehicles is being driven by increased accessibility. The market was previously dominated by relatively expensive models such as the Tesla Model S, while newer cost-effective models like the Hyundai Ioniq and the Vauxhall Corsa E are now opening up EVs to all motorists in the UK and leasing is helping to make them affordable.”

In tandem with Leasing.com’s data, SMMT data shows that battery vehicles had their best ever year in 2020 with UK sales topping out at 108,25 leading to a 7% market share in new vehicle registrations, up from 2% in 2019. Whilst petrol still has the highest market share, electric drivetrains are starting to chip away at the numbers and with more EV models being released in 2021, BEV’s and hybrid could take the top spot sooner than anticipated.