A recent research commissioned by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has unveiled concerning trends in the UK's electric vehicle market. The study conducted in cooperation with Savanta indicates a significant delay in potential EV purchases, posing a threat to the nation's progress towards achieving net-zero emissions targets.

The government’s decision last September to extend the deadline for the end of the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 to 2035 has had a palpable effect on consumer sentiment. Approximately one in four drivers (24 per cent) now intend to postpone their transition to electric vehicles, while one in seven (14 per cent) have abandoned the idea altogether.

Despite being Europe's second-largest market for new electric cars in terms of volume, the growth rate of EV adoption in the UK has stagnated. While fleet and business purchases continue to drive market growth, private retail uptake has dwindled since 2022, constituting less than one in four new EV registrations.

The survey reveals a shift in consumer attitudes, with almost half (46 per cent) of potential EV buyers now indicating they will delay their purchase until after 2030. Concerns over vehicle affordability, availability of charging infrastructure, and charging costs remain significant barriers cited by nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of respondents.

In response to these challenges, the SMMT proposes a three-point plan of tax reforms aimed at revitalising the EV market and aligning with the nation's environmental objectives. Key proposals include halving VAT on new EV purchases, revising Vehicle Excise Duty rates to favour EVs, and making public charging more affordable.

According to SMMT's analysis, halving VAT on new EVs could lead to savings of up to £4,000 for buyers, incentivising approximately 270,000 additional EV purchases over the next three years. Furthermore, the industry advocates for reducing VAT on public charging infrastructure from 20 per cent to 5 per cent, to eliminate disparities in taxation between home and public charging.

The urgency for reform was underscored by recent criticism from the House of Lords, which questioned the government's decision to prematurely end incentives aimed at promoting EV adoption. Executives from the industry, including Volkswagen’s managing director for the UK, have also expressed concerns and called for incentives to stimulate demand for EVs among private buyers.