UK diesel sales see drastic decline amid Tesla and electric cars’ meteoric rise

A right-hand-drive Tesla Model 3. (Photo: Mick Paul/Twitter)

Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular in the United Kingdom, while cars that are powered by diesel are seeing a decrease in demand. These statistics are based on figures released by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), a trade association for the automotive industry in the UK.

“Alternatively fueled vehicle (AFV) registrations reached a record market share, with more than one in 10 cars joining UK roads either hybrid, plug-in hybrid or pure electric,” the SMMT said. Compared to the month of November 2018, Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) saw a 228.8% increase in sales, and became more than three times as popular in terms of market share, moving from 0.9% in 2018 to 3.0% in 2019, according to data released by the SMMT.

Inversely, Diesel plummeted dropped over 27% from what the UK saw in 2018. While these cars are still notably more popular than BEVs, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), or Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) in terms of overall sales, their numbers are falling at a steady rate. Last month, only 36,941 diesel vehicles were sold, compared to 50,750 for the same month in 2018.

This decline in diesel sales could be attributed to former Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Royal Treasury, Philip Hammond’s decision to tax older diesel-powered vehicles last year. The tax charges £12.50 daily to diesel drivers in central London and took effect in April 2019. Next year, vans, buses, and other heavy pollution-emitting vehicles will see guidelines that may bring additional taxes, according to The Guardian. Weak business in the automotive market, decreasing consumer confidence, and uncertainty regarding clean air zones could also be attributed to the decreasing sales of diesel cars.

It is no secret the appeal of electric cars has been spreading across the world. However, the need to ween off the dependence on petrol-powered vehicles is coming from the UK’s goal to phase-out fossil fuels as an energy source for cars in the coming years. In Scotland, the goal is 2032, while in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the goal is a bit more conservative at 2040.

Tesla’s presence in the UK has become more notable as of late. The Model 3 won the “Car of the Year”, “Best Electric Car”, “Best Company Car”, and “Best Safety” awards from the prestigious automotive magazine Parker’s Car Guides, who were impressed with the vehicle in a multitude of ways. Parker’s representatives said the vehicle was “capable, likable, and extremely good to drive,” a description that seems to be used quite often when talking about Tesla’s most affordable electric car. It was also named the third best-selling car in the UK by the SMMT.

The SMMT’s report that diesel vehicle sales are falling while electric car sales are rising may be a sign that those in the UK are recognizing the economic and environmental advantages of battery-powered transportation. Even some who are interested in high-performance vehicles are now finding their preferences shift to electric propulsion, as the instant torque from a premium EV like a Tesla gives vehicles an exhilarating experience.

UK diesel sales see drastic decline amid Tesla and electric cars’ meteoric rise
To Top