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AM News Show Podcast: ‘affluence is central to car buyers' EV interest’

Auto Trader brand director Marc Palmer and Cap HPI head of forecast strategy Dylan Setterfield  on the AM News Show

Auto Trader brand director Marc Palmer asserted that “areas of affluence” are the UK’s hotspots for interest in electric vehicles (EV) as the cost-of-living crisis continues to squeeze car buyers’ purse strings.

Fresh from the publication of insight from the online used car marketing website which suggested that the UK risks “running out” of people rich enough to buy electric cars, Palmer joined Cap HPI head of forecast strategy Dylan Setterfield on the AM News Show to discuss the EV take-up and the evolution of the used car market.

And while Setterfield conceded that predicting used car values three years hence had been made “virtually impossible” by the COVID-19 crisis – with the war in Ukraine now adding to the uncertainty – it seems regions of increased EV traction are easier to predict.

“The correlation between charge points and EV interest doesn’t exist, not even the ultra-low emissions zone or clean air zones”, said Palmer.

“Affluence is (the key). It’s not a North/South divide or urban/rural, where people have got a place to charge the car and the means to afford it, that’s where we see the most interest.”

Palmer’s comments echo those of Auto Trader commercial director, Ian Plummer, who told a fringe event at the COP26 that EVs would remain the 'preserve of the rich' without targeted incentives.

This week's Q1 new car registrations data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that the Tesla Model Y topped the best-seller rankings and the Tesla Model 3 finishing second - almost 1,000 units ahead of the Vauxhall Corsa.

While registrations dipped 14.3% overall last month EV registrations rose 78.7% to a record 39,315.

"At the moment there are enough wealthy people with enough interest in EVs to keep that thing turning," said Palmer.

With private investment increasingly being committed to the creation of EV infrastructure, it also looks likely that wealthier parts of the country could benefit from an acceleration in charge points, too.

Palmer told the AM News Show: “Private investors are turning up with money to spend on infrastructure because all of a sudden a lot of them can start making money out of automotive when previously it was down to fuel companies and there wasn’t that opportunity.

“That point of where you put your infrastructure, that’s where investors need information.”

Setterfield discussed the affordability of EVs in the used sector with AM editor Tim Rose and news and features editor Tom Sharpe in the latest edition of the AM News Show.

He also reflected on the challenges of the past two years and how the current industry headwinds – including supply issues triggered as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – now looked set to impact the market.

Setterfield said: “It’s been virtually impossible over the past two years to try and work out even over the space of the next few weeks what’s going to happen with the market, let alone one year away, three years away.”

He added: “Look at our estimates of how things are going to evolve in the next 12 months, the end result hasn’t actually changed very much but the underlying reasons why we will end up there have changed completely.”

Produced in partnership with Armchair Marketing, the AM News Show is available via Youtube, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Previous guests of the show include TrustFord marketing director Julia Greenhough, CitNOW sales manager Callum Wood, Waylands Automotive chief executive John O’Hanlon and IMDA chairman Umesh Samani.

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