EV demand shifts power to Asia

Data from ContractHireAndLeasing.com shows the three most popular hybrid vehicles in 2018 are made by Asian manufacturers – Hyundai (Ioniq), Kia (Niro) and Toyota (C-HR).

Although alternatively fuelled vehicles still account for just 5.6 per cent of the overall new car market, according to the latest figures from the SMMT, registrations of plug-in and hybrid electric cars continue to rise at an impressive rate.

Registrations climbed 49.3% in April, which was attributed to manufacturer investment in a growing choice of models. But with Brexit talks stalling and diesel new car sales falling, it’s Asian manufacturers that are reaping the benefits.

Volkswagen had to close its order book for the Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid in January, citing ‘unprecedented demand’, that led to long lead times.  Last month, Volkswagen also had to stop taking orders for the Passat GTE for the same reason. At this time, there is no indication when they will be available to order again, which is pushing drivers to look elsewhere.

European manufacturers are watching the Brexit discussions closely and it’s no secret that securing tariff-free access to European and other global markets is high on the agenda of UK automotive. According to the SMMT, import tariffs alone could push up the list price of cars imported to the UK from the continent by an average of £1,500 if brands and their retail networks were unable to absorb these additional costs.

Commenting on the trend, Paul Harrison, head of strategic partnerships at ContractHireAndLeasing.com, said, ‘With Asian manufacturers having introduced and innovated in the field of hybrid and electric vehicles since the nineties, it’s no surprise to see them becoming the market leaders.

‘The movement towards electrification and the outcome of Brexit discussions will be crucial in deciding which manufacturers will gain market share in the UK new car market.’