Driver demand for petrol and diesel vehicles ‘will be all but gone’ within years

Sales of petrol and diesel cars are set to plummet by 69 per cent by 2028 as the UK makes more drastic moves to battery electric vehicles, new data has found.

Between 2024 and 2027, EV sales are expected to grow by 160 per cent totalling 2.3 million units while hybrid vehicles will represent 25 per cent of registrations, with two million units sold.

Diesel vehicle sales, however, are expected to shrink to just three per cent by 2027 with 62,000 units registered in 2027, while petrol-based vehicles with 3.5 million registrations over the four years, will fall by 12 per cent to dominate only a third of the market share by 2028.

Before Covid, internal combustion engine vehicles made up 95 per cent of new car registrations, but that number has fallen to 71 per cent in the past four years, a loss of 4.6 million cars.

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polution from cars at traffic light

EV sales are expected to grow to 160 per cent by 2028


Philip Nothard, insight director at Cox Automotive, which commissioned the research, said: “The registration of the millionth EV in the UK is an important milestone in the transition to zero-emission motoring.

“But with two in every five new cars joining the UK car parc this year forecast to be EV or hybrid, and with that proportion destined to grow rapidly in future years, dynamics in the used market over the next four years will arguably rival the complexity and impact of those experienced during the pandemic.

“We must remember that in 2023, 94 per cent of used cars sold were ICE and many consumers will likely remain loyal to this fuel type for as long as they can.

“The average used car buyer is often seeking to replace their existing car with something comparable that’s affordable and fits their lifestyle.”

In 2016, EVs made up just 0.4 per cent of all new car registrations while hybrids took three per cent. By 2019, this had risen to 1.6 per cent and by the end of 2023, EVs took up 17 per cent of all new sales.

Diesel has continued to see dramatic declines, dropping from a 38 per cent share in 2016-2019, and to a 13 per cent between 2020-2023.

By 2023, diesel vehicles, including mild-hybrid variants, represented just eight per cent of new registrations.

Cox Automotive predicted that this share would decline to three per cent by 2028, a loss of 488,000 vehicles over four years, in addition to the 2.9 million vehicles lost since 2020.

Northard warned: “Manufacturers will continue to be driven by legislation rather than consumer demand and ICE will be all but gone from the UK new car market long before the 2035 deadline.”

The expert detailed how while the market for used EVs will now establish itself as volumes come on stream, it faces competition from manufacturers and dealers chasing new registration volume via compelling deals and finance offers.

He said: “Many potential used buyers are cautious about longer-term EV values, their comparably high outright purchase cost and the risk of technological obsolescence.

“That isn’t to say EVs don’t represent good value on the used market or will sit on forecourts unsold – in fact, there’s evidence that shows the contrary is happening.”


petrol station fuel pumps

There are more than one million electric vehicles on UK roads


As of the end of February 2024, there are now over one million fully electric cars on UK roads and a further 620,000 plug-in hybrids.


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