It is fascinating to read two articles, posted almost alongside each other, in AM-online this week. One, covering a survey by Auto Trader, suggests that it will be another nine years before most motorists seriously consider an electric vehicle. Uncertainties about charging points, infrastructure and range mean that for your average driver, electric is still a step into the unknown. And I can understand those feelings.
On the other hand, a different article based on a report by Leasing Options suggests that in just two years time, in 2020, the sale of electric vehicles will have outpaced the sale of diesels. Given that diesel sales have plummeted nearly 40% in the last year, one perhaps could be forgiven for thinking this was possible.
But is it? As it implies that diesel sales are going to continue to plummet and the slack will be taken up by petrol. This obviously presents the government with a problem, as petrol cars are notoriously worse at emitting CO2 than their diesel counterparts. It only shows that statistics can be made to prove almost anything, it depends what you want to say.
It also depends on how you phrase the question (which is why you never hold a referendum on anything important!) There is no doubt considerable anxiety about the electric vehicles’ ability to cover long distances, though the majority of drivers never drive more than 50 – 60 miles at a time in any case. Equally, if you extrapolate current falls in diesel sales, you will arrive at the conclusion that they’ll arrive at almost zero in 2 – 3 years time. I can confidently predict that will not happen. Some manufacturers are struggling to switch production to petrol cars, others have invested too much in diesel technology just to say goodbye to it overnight. The pricing of such vehicles will become increasingly attractive, even if the taxing of them would seem to go the other way. And like any market, a reaction to adversity is nearly always an overreaction. Diesel’s current plunge may well turn into a rally in 2020. New technology perhaps, new investment, new science and indeed a changing attitude.
As we approach 1 September, it is after all only a few hours away, then I can tell that many dealers are worried. WLTP concerns mean that many will struggle to hit their targets in the next couple of months, some are not expecting much supply before the end of October. And let us face it, with Europe doing rather better and the UK underperforming, we are probably not their biggest concern as a market at this moment, so we are being left to run our own devices. With car production falling 11% in July (against an 18% rise this time last year) things are not looking overpromising in any case. But until you get your vehicles tested and approved, there’s not much point in producing them in any case.
Have a good first of September, or as good as you can at any rate, so you can relax for the rest of the year.
And have a great weekend, autumn starts tomorrow. Let’s hope it is not followed by a winter of discontent.

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