Cox Automotive says that the shift to electric vehicles (EVs) in the U.K. will have major repercussions for the used car market in the coming years.

Cox Automotive’s U.K. forecast for 2024-2027 anticipates that EV registrations will grow by 160% compared to 2020-2023, to 2.3 million units or 28% of sales. Hybrid registrations will account for 25% of sales (2.0 million units) during this period.

The flip side of this will be a big fall in new diesel registrations and a smaller, but still significant, reduction in petrol vehicle registrations, and Cox says this shift will have a major impact on the used vehicle market.

The projected changes come against the background of a new car market that contracted by almost a third between 2020 and 2023. Compared to 2016-2019, this equates to a decline of 3.1 million units.

This has had major implications for the composition of the U.K. car parc. In 2016, EVs and hybrids accounted for just 0.4% and 3% of registered vehicles, respectively. By 2019, these figures had risen to 1.6% and 6%, respectively, and by the end of 2023 to 17% and 20%.

In contrast, petrol and diesel or ICE (internal combustion engine) cars accounted for 95% of new registrations between 2016 and 2019, with this figure falling to 71% between 2020 and 2023. The ICE decline accelerated during the latter period, with the market share of these vehicles falling from 83% in 2020 to 64% in 2023.

Cox Automotive predicts this trend will continue between 2024-2027, with 784,000 new ICE vehicles to enter the U.K. market in the latter year, down 35% from 1.2 million in 2023.

Diesel has experienced the most dramatic decline, from a 38% share in 2016-2019 to 13% in 2020-2023. By 2023, diesel vehicles, including mild-hybrid variants, represented just 8% of new car registrations. Cox predicts this share will fall to just 3% by 2028.

Between 2016 and 2023, petrol vehicle volumes remained relatively stable. They represented 57% of the market between 2016-2019 and 58% between 2020-2023. However, Cox expects this petrol vehicle registrations to decline to 51% of all registrations by the end of 2024 and 35% by 2028.

“The registration of the millionth EV in the U.K. is an important milestone in the transition to zero-emission motoring,” said Philip Nothard, insight director at Cox Automotive.

“But with two in every five new cars joining the UK car parc this year forecast to be EV or hybrid, and with that proportion destined to grow rapidly in future years, dynamics in the used market over the next four years will arguably rival the complexity and impact of those experienced during the pandemic.”

“It’s almost impossible to overstate the shift in the UK car parc over the past four years and how that change will continue to accelerate. Today’s parc for cars aged 0-4 years differs significantly from 2020 and will contrast even more so in 2028.”

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