The race is on

Typography
Opinion

Contributing editor Jordan O’Brien takes a look into the increasing demand for electric vehicles in the UK.

It’s been estimated that electric vehicles will outsell traditional vehicles by the year 2040, but that prediction may have been too conservative. While it’s true that combustion engine cars and trucks continue to outsell their electric counterparts, the major manufacturers are all clamouring to launch new models. 

In 2018, just 15,474 pure electric vehicles were sold in the UK and the majority of those sales were going to the likes of the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe. Both of those cars suffered from issues relating to their quirky design and below 150-mile range, so they’ve hardly been a mainstream success story. In 2019, however, things are beginning to change. 

Just over the last few weeks, we’ve seen two stories that point to both the public and car manufacturers going all-in on electric vehicles. By far the most significant story is the launch of Volkswagen’s new ID.3, the firm’s most important car since the Volkswagen Golf. This car is being heralded as the people’s electric car and it’s easy to see why. Not only does it boast a range of up to 340 miles, clever self-driving technology, and a futuristic design based on the Golf, but it has also been designed with affordability in mind - with prices set to begin at just under €30,000. 

Volkswagen is the world’s largest car manufacturer, and the ID.3 marks an important milestone in the company’s electric future, but it’s far from the end. Not only does the company plan to launch at least another five Volkswagen-branded all-electric cars in the next few years, but the firm is also investing heavily in charging infrastructure. Along with its joint partners, BMW, Daimler AG, and Ford, Volkswagen has aggressive growth plans for the Ionity charging network, which offers a charging capacity of up to 350kW – one of the fastest currently on the market. 

Elsewhere, Volkswagen is leveraging its other brands to push consumers towards electric vehicles. The Audi E-Tron is already on the road, while the ultra-luxurious Porsche Taycan received its official unveiling earlier this week. New electric models from Seat and Skoda are also on the cards for the near future. 

While Volkswagen’s onslaught of new vehicles will likely lead to an explosion in the sales of electric vehicles, it turns out consumers are already switching over. The Tesla Model 3 was named as the third best selling vehicle in the UK in August, beating out established models such as the Nissan Qashqai, Vauxhall Corsa, and even the Ford Focus. According to stats released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Tesla registered 2,082 vehicles in August, while the Ford Focus only managed 1,886 registrations. 

The UK may not be as hungry for electric cars as Norway, which already has EVs outselling traditional cars, but with plenty of viable choices now coming to the market it’s hard to believe we’re 20 years behind.