Looking back ten years, the only mass-market EV on sale in the UK was the Nissan LEAF and in total, just nine could be bought from dealers. Arguably, the LEAF was also the only one you’d realistically want to live with on a day-to-day basis, with the others including the best-forgotten G-Wiz and less-than-practical Mitsubishi i-MIEV.
Back then less than one in 1000 cars sold were EVs, too, and you can understand why. The LEAF was capable of around 90 miles on its 24kWh battery – which at 3.75 miles per kWh isn’t too shabby. Other EVs were similarly short on range with the aforementioned Mitsubishi i-MIEV (and sister car, the Citroen C-Zero) capable of around 60 miles.
The G-Wiz was all out of ideas after 50 miles, but to be fair you’d have abandoned it and walked long before you got that far.
Now, in the UK’s first “electric decade”, buyers have more choice and more practicality than ever. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), there are now 140 plug-in models available to buyers. These account for more than one-in-five new car registrations so far in 2022 and by the end of the year, a further 50 models are expected to have been launched here.
For those who want a full EV, there’s little compromise needed when it comes to range as in the last decade, the average range has gone up from 74 miles to 257 miles on a charge. In fact, nowadays range anxiety is far less of a factor for buyers, with 75 per cent of buyers citing a lack of public charging as more off-putting than the range of a particular EV.
Interestingly, the venerable Nissan LEAF is still firmly in the mix, except now even the lower specification models will do almost 170 miles on a charge with the higher spec cars capable of closer to 240.
And whilst the improvements in range and tech have been massive, the choice of cars now available would have been unthinkable ten years ago. It’s possible to buy an electric Lotus with almost 2000bhp for £2m, or an MG5 EV estate with well over 200 miles of range and buckets of useable space for £25k. Somewhere in the middle are so many electric SUVs that there’s almost too much choice.
Brands have also been transformed in the last decade. In 2012 Hyundai and Kia were still considered makers of low-quality fridge freezers with wheels, they’re now leaders in EV design and tech, innovating some of the most exciting cars on the market. Porsche – a flag bearer for petrol power – now has one of the most compelling electric cars in the shape of the Taycan and names like Polestar have gone from niche tuners of Volvos to all-electric brands in their own right.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “The ever-increasing number of electric vehicle models launched by manufacturers shows just how far Britain has come, with industry investment stimulating innovation at an ever-faster rate. With almost 200 electrified models expected to be available by the end of the year, manufacturers are turning ambitions for zero and ultra-low emission mobility into a reality, while motorists’ demand for these vehicles increases month by month.”
There are obviously many challenges still facing the industry – charging, price, shortage of components to name a few – but given the progress in the past ten years, who knows where we’ll be in 2032.
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