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Searches and leases of electric cars soar amid UK petrol station closures

Online searches for electric cars skyrocketed in the past two weeks, amid widespread petrol station closures across the UK, while orders of electric cars have increased by over 200% according to some car leasing companies.

Recent weeks have seen growing fuel shortages at Britain’s petrol stations primarily due to a lack of HGV drivers available to make deliveries, leaving thousands of motorists to contend with huge queues and engage in aggressive behaviour at the pumps.

The crisis came to a head last Tuesday, 28 September, when Google Trends data revealed a huge spike in search terms for both ‘open petrol stations’ and ‘electric cars’ across England.

This came two days after the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) estimated between 50% and 90% of the 5,500 petrol stations it represents were out of fuel.

But while the number of searches for open petrol stations quickly dropped off, searches for electric cars have remained consistently high, despite the popularity of both terms reaching a peak on the same day.

SPIKE: Searches for electric cars and open petrol stations jumped as the fuel crisis escalated. Data: Google Trends

Owner of car information website carguide.co.uk Olli Astley believes this signifies a boost in demand for electric vehicles which is here to stay.

He said: “This trend is likely to continue as more and more people become conscious of the viability of electric cars.

“The fuel crisis has hit just as almost every major car manufacturer has committed to electrifying their vehicle portfolio, and the ranges and capabilities of electric cars are increasing almost exponentially as new models come to market.”

Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) supports Astley’s analysis.

Of the 37,246 cars that left UK production lines last month, more than a quarter were battery electric (BEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or hybrid (HEV) cars – the biggest swell of electric car production in UK history according to the SMMT.

Though data for new electric car registrations with the DVLA for September is not yet available, national car dealer leasecar.uk reported a 228.57% increase in electric car orders compared to September last year.

The website’s head of online Tim Alcock said: “There is a lot of uncertainty among motorists at the moment about the situation with petrol and diesel, and many drivers across the UK have spent a long time over the last week looking for petrol stations which are open to buy fuel.

“The current struggles make the concept of owning or leasing an electric car more appealing, as people would not be reliant on a petrol or diesel pump to get around and make critical journeys.

“With this in mind, it is perhaps no surprise more and more people are considering electric cars.”

Residents of south west London who are considering a move to electric powered vehicles off the back of the fuel crisis will be pleased to know they are in the right place.

The capital is already ahead of the rest of the UK by some margin in terms of charging infrastructure, with 28.8 charging points per 100 electric cars (compared to the national average of 12.5), but Wandsworth boasts the highest availability of chargers, 34 per 100 electric vehicles, of any London borough excluding the City.

LEADING THE WAY: Wandsworth has the highest number of charging points in London, which is well ahead of the rest of the UK. Data: comparethemarket.com

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