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How is the car industry evolving in the UK?

ByDave Stopher

Oct 20, 2018

The UK has a long and industrious history when it comes to motor vehicles – both manufacturing and driving. In this article, I look at some of the trends in the motor industry and what they mean for the british motorist.

Diesel Cars

Following the VW emissions scandal, and numerous studies showing connections to air pollution, cars fueled with diesel have come under fire. Although the UK government stopped short of bans, there are still higher taxes levied on diesels than their petrol burning counterparts. Also, it is believed that many councils will move to start limiting when older model diesel cars can enter city centres.

All this has seen a significant stall in both the sales and production of new diesel cars. It has also seen a drop in the price of second-hand diesels. This trend is likely to continue, with diesels becoming a rarer and rarer sight on british roads as time goes on.

Ecommerce and the Internet

Clearly one of the largest changes to the automotive industry over the last decade has been the rise of the internet, and in particular social media. Consumers now have access to a far larger pool of available information than ever before. This means that researching prices and product reviews is easier than ever.

Furthermore, ecommerce has become key, with consumers choosing to buy online more and more. The UK has a thriving online used car sales community, with sites like Autovolo.co.uk allowing people to sell their car directly, without the need to go to a dealership. This means that consumers are now getting great deals, but this is also putting the squeeze on dealerships, as their margins become narrower.

Electric cars

The next great game changer in the UK car industry is the emergence of electric cars. Compared to some global markets, the UK is particularly well suited to fully electric cars, due to the relatively short distances between populated areas. This means there is never really a great risk of needing to recharge and being nowhere near a plug-in point.

From humble beginnings, when London was the first European city to get a Tesla dealership, back in 2009, as of the end of last year the UK boasts over 110,000 electric cars sold. This figure is predicted to dramatically increase, with the government incentivising electric car ownership in a bid to improve air quality in cities and lower CO2 emissions across the nation.

Moving forward, BP recently purchased the largest network of charging points across the UK, and have promised extensive investment, which will further develop the UK’s capabilities regarding fully electric vehicles.

The Sharing Economy

Another huge factor affecting the motor industry in the UK is the rise of the notion of the Sharing Economy. Essentially, this is the idea that people share things rather than each buying separately. The motor industry is particularly prone to disruption here, because cars are both expensive to buy initially, and can be expensive to run. Sharing these costs between people makes a lot of sense.

Furthermore, in urban centres like London and Manchester, the need to own a car is diminished by the amount and quality of public transport. This again makes people less willing to invest in a car of their own.

This is still very much an industry in its infancy, but the motor industry is certainly paying attention to this trend, for example BMW announced their own version of a sharing economy app across London back in 2014.


Image URL: https://pixabay.com/en/exhaust-exhaust-gases-diesel-tube-3538388/