Electric Car Demand Jumps Through Roof In UK Following VW Scandal

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Originally published on EV Obsession.

The recent Volkswagen scandal involving diesel car emissions seems to have caused a surge in electric vehicle interest, according to a UK-based car rental firm.

The surge has been so great, according to Flexed.co.uk, that lead-in times for rentals have increased notably — largely owing to the scandal, but also partly due to simple economics. After all, it’s often a bit cheaper (in the UK, as well as some other places) to operate an electric vehicle (EV) than it is a petrol or diesel car.

Nissan cleans up London with the world's first car-powered graff

“We’ve seen enquiries for electric cars go through the roof in recent weeks,” stated Flexed.co.uk representative Mark Hall, “Petrol and diesel cars just aren’t getting a look in.”

Interestingly, the surge seems to pertain mostly to pure all-electric vehicles rather than to plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). PHEVs have reportedly remained largely unchanged.

“There seems to be a wave of disgust at Volkwagen over the emissions scandal, and it’s driving customers away from petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars, no matter what the make.”

A recent email sent to EV Obsession provides some of the assumed reasons for the surge in interest:

  • Vehicle prices which compare favourably with petrol and diesel equivalents
  • Electric cars have no emissions, so pay no road tax
  • Running costs are as little as 3p per mile, a quarter of the cost for petrol cars compared with an average of 13p per mile for petrol cars
  • Speed, performance, and range have vastly improved, dispelling the electric car ‘milk float’ image
  • Easily-accessible rapid charging points now available across the UK, with main dealers offering free forecourt charging

“The motor trade was well prepared for increased interest in green driving this year,” stated Hall, “But they’ve been caught out by the spike in orders following the VW scandal.”

“Electric cars are no longer the preserve of the rich minority. They’re now available to anybody who wants a reliable, green, cheap-to-run car. The days of spending £50 per week to fill up your polluting car will soon be over.”

Image Credit: Nissan

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

James Ayre has 4830 posts and counting. See all posts by James Ayre

36 thoughts on “Electric Car Demand Jumps Through Roof In UK Following VW Scandal

  • I remember that picture. The guy who made art by erasing pollution…creating negative space art with zero emissions by powering it with his Leaf.

    About the story, this is neat. Gets me excited that this could possibly happen one day in the US though truthfully, it feels SOOO unlikely. At least in my area, EVs are increasing in a noticeable way which is encouraging.

    • Don’t give up hope. EVs are about to hit mainstream in a big way real soon. Early next year after Tesla shows their Model 3, interest will pick up. When GM does the same with Bolt the excitement will pick up more.

      There are a lot of companies still in wait and see mode. Once there are some successful low cost EVs with 200 mile range, there will be a stampede of car companies trying to avoid missing the market.

      • EVs are 2-3yrs away before they start to become mainstream. Cheaper cars like the Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf are going to be getting about a 40% increase in range in 2-3yrs time. That is when people will take an interest. People keep going on about the Tesla 3 and Bolt but those will be a lot more expensive so won’t sell well in the UK or other non-US countries. I’m hoping that Kia and other might launch a competitor to the VW E-up! as that can is very small, which is ideal for an EV for weight reasons.

        • Tesla model 3 will be a junior exec car, displacing BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and what’s left of Audi.

        • I hear the Mitsubishi imiev isn’t bad for the price

          • I’m in the process of buying a used one in California . . . a 2012 I-MiEV ES with a little over 17000 miles on it that is costing just under $7000. By the time I pay taxes and the fees to have it flat bedded back home to Arizona, it will cost another thousand or so. Still . . . dirt cheap for an electric car like this. I fly out to the dealer in mid November to give it a personal inspection and sign the papers. With luck, it will be in my driveway by Thanksgiving.

            I’ve been watching the online listings all summer on used I-MiEVs and have seen fairly constant price drops through the months. This same car might have cost me as much as $10000 in June. But they seem to be going up again and – at least the past week or so – getting harder to find on the west coast. Not sure, but I might have navigated through a perfect low price window just as I happened to have enough cash on hand to make a down payment. And, yeah, the VW scandal might have been partially responsible for what now seems to be a stiffer market for used EVs.

          • Please drive an I-MiEV before concluding your purchase. I’ve not driven one, but I have sat in one, and wasn’t impressed. I was born in the ’50s and have had lots of cars and sort of consider the I-MiEV to be halfway between a GEM and a “real” car like the Nissan Leaf or Kia Soul EV.

          • I’ve not only driven one, but got to live with one for a two week period, as I have done so with a Leaf and a Volt. My decision is an informed one, while you’re simply coming off as as some sort of uniformed troll (you actually sat in one and you are an instant authority?) who is attempting to qualify my requirements without knowing what I’m looking for in a car. The i-MiEV, by the way, received a 4 star crash rating, so it is far outside of the NEV league.

          • Your posts prompted me to investigate i-MiEV locally. Found a 2012 with 12,600 miles for $8400 but wait! It also comes with a $200 gas card!

            I might talk to wife. It’s got a 61 mile range which means strictly local but we can go a week or more just local and need two cars just often enough. Sounds very interesting.

          • Now THAT’S funny,! I’m guessing that it’s a used car dealership who routinely hands out this sort of premium, not thinking that this wouldn’t have a direct correlation with a pure EV.

            Yes, an I-MiEV (or a Leaf, for that matter) makes an ideal 2nd car in a two car household, which is what mine is going to be . . . and you’ll have $200 of gas for your other car.

            Give it a test drive, of course, and check the history of the example you’re considering. All the online listings I’ve seen have a link to a CarFax report.

          • Actually I found that the Leaf makes an ideal primary car with the gas car getting 1/4 use as counted by miles including road trips.

          • Here again . . . an attempt to qualify someone without knowledge of that person’s requirements. Most used 2011-12 Leafs that aren’t beaten into the ground are going for around $13K (ie: similar condition to the i-MiEV I’m getting for almost half that price.) That’s fine. But the monthly payment might be enough more to be a deal breaker for some. It would be for me.

            Early Leafs also had a poorly designed rear cargo area layout, which was improved upon in subsequent years. But the i-MiEV still has more useful cargo space than the newer Leafs. The Leaf would win if you’re constantly hauling the 5th passenger, though. But that’s not an important one for me.

            I think this review sums it up best . . .


          • Benjamin, you are being pissy, the man only suggested you try driving one before you buy. That does not make him a troll.

          • No, I’m not. His stated qualification is that he was “born in the 50s and had lots of cars,” which could exactly describe me. I’ve researched my purchase carefully, driving a number of EVs for extended periods and spent years talking with owners of this vehicle and others. So, I ‘m going to take exception from an anonymous critic who (drum roll, please) sat down in one and didn’t instantly bond with it, never so much as driving it around the block himself.

          • I’m glad you’ve got experience with the car and are happy with it. Enjoy your i-MiEV and tell us how it works for you after you’ve owned it a few months. If I see one available for sale locally (San Diego) I may test drive myself.

          • OK, thanks, gregben. Sorry to jump down your throat on this, but it did touch a nerve with me. The car has been treated rather badly in the press and, when I was given the opportunity to borrow one for a couple of weeks, these bad reviews had me prejudge the vehicle as well.

            What won me over was the ergonomics of the interior, especially the cargo space with the rear seats folded down, and the overall simplicity of the cockpit. The boutique reviewers get bothered by things like hard plastic surfaces and lack of gee-whiz gadgetry, but
            this is exactly what I was looking for in an EV.

            How it works will depend on the sort of environment you drive in regularly. Tucson is mostly surface streets with speed limits between 25 and 45mph. There’s little need to access freeways, unless you’re on your way out of town. If you’re having to do constant freeway travel where you live, the i-MiEV could be a rough fit. But in a stop-and-go urban environment, the car really shines.

          • i agree with you

        • That’s right. We can expect a range of options. Look for convertibles and eventually amphibious. just kidding. 🙂

        • Most people I know haven’t even heard of Tesla or the Model S, or EVs generally,but the leaf is now starting to impinge on people’s thinking due to its popularity as a Taxi around here.
          A bit more mainstream marketing would radically change people perceptions but ATM it’s practically non existent except for the odd advert in the more ‘upmarket’ bits of the media.

          • Where is “here”?

            (Also, you misspelled “to” in your profile.)

          • Sorted, ta

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    • The main diference between the US and UK is physical size. For the US, cities are 100+ miles apart and so you need 200+ miles EV for commuting.
      For the UK, cities are about 50 miles apart maximum, so shorter range EVs can be used especially since chargers are close together – often within a mile of each other.
      I also expect the range of EVs to get better, so as evee says – don’t give up hope!

      • A big, BIG difference is that gas/petrol is about 3X times more expensive in the UK and the rest of Europe than in the US. It is a mystery to me why EVs haven’t caught on more there than in the US simply based on fuel costs.

        • Yes, US needs to raise highway fund by $2.00/gal and then $0.25/gal/yr. And EU should raise their diesel tax to match the gas tax.

          • You clearly are European or you would know it is the divine right of Americans to have cheap fuel and large cars.

    • The battery costs are dropping 7% a year. If that doesn’t stop, the outcome is inevitable. Electricity is cheaper and you can make it locally, with renewables.

  • It is good news that the initial markets for evs are more dispersed than the early ones for solar panels. That makes the producers less vulnerable to a policy shift in a single country, as happened to solar with Germany.

  • Anyone considering buying a petrol or diesel now has to assume that the value will depreciate at an accelerated rate due to the advent of EVs into the mainstream.

  • Ya I bet the market went like, vw diesel, others probably did too, it will be a while before agency have finish testing the vehicule themselves, so customer are like , lets look into this electric thing.

  • I think this is baloney. The company purports that interest in petrol and diesel cars of any make has dived in the weeks since the VW scandal, like people didn’t realize IEC cars pollute, then it goes on to list “the assumed reasons for the surge in interest” in electric cars, all of which are already known. And the vague language explaining the claim of enquiries going through the roof: ““There SEEMS to be a wave of disgust at Volkwagen over the emissions scandal…” hmm…

  • Odd, the company quoted in the article doesn’t actually seem to have much of a range of EVs for rental, the only one I could find was a Mercedes.
    Given that, seems hardly a representative example to quote when gauging the level of interest in EVs in the UK?

Comments are closed.