electric charging Prius plug-in hybrid close up

The supply of new electric cars in the UK is in danger of running out next year as manufacturers prioritise the EU market, a think tank has warned.

Analysis by Transport & Environment (T&E) suggests electric cars will treble their market share in the European market, including the UK, this year as a result of EU car CO2 targets imposed on manufacturers.

Despite the pandemic, EV sales have surged since 1 January, just as the emissions standards kicked in, and will reach 10% this year and 15% in 2021.

But T&E said the UK supply of electric cars is likely to dry up next year in the absence of British regulations equivalent to those in Europe.

Greg Archer, UK director at T&E, said: “Electric car sales are booming thanks to emissions standards. Next year, one in every seven cars sold in Europe will be a plug-in. European manufacturers have EVs to sell, but from January they’ll have no incentive to sell them in the UK unless the government requires them to do so.”

Carmakers must meet targets to reduce the average emissions of the cars they sell in Europe, or pay fines. But from 2021, UK sales of EVs will not help manufacturers achieve EU standards.

The government has so far failed to make parliamentary time available for equivalent new UK regulations to encourage sales here. These would need to be introduced by the end of October to be in place by January and maintain supplies of electric cars to the UK.

T&E claims the current draft regulation contain errors that will lead to about a fifth fewer EVs being sold in the UK than was likely if it had remained a part of the existing EU scheme. This is despite government claims that the rules are equivalent to those in the EU.

Archer concluded: “The electric car is becoming mainstream but we risk turning off the tap in Britain. Carmakers will prioritise EV sales in markets where laws and tax breaks encourage them most, but the UK’s proposed standards are too weak and maybe too late.

“Government needs to quickly introduce regulations equivalent to the EU’s in 2021, or demand for electric cars will outstrip available supply and drivers will be left with long waits to secure their new electric car which will be more expensive.”