We’re moving into an increasingly electric time for car manufacturers, with the UK aiming to ban the sale of all new petrol, diesel and hybrid car by 2035and the introduction of local clean air zones (CAZs) around the country. With this shift to electric vehicles (EVs) we asked director Spencer Blake to give us his take on brands in the EV sector.

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Electric vehicles are growing in popularity with brands and drivers which means we’re seeing more on UK roads than ever before.

Although the current government has pushed back the ban on the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid models to the original 2035 date it seems as though the rest of the world is continuing to electrify at the same pace.  And as we see more drivers looking to get electric cars we’ve seen a rise in the number of brands offering EVs to their customers.

Xcite Car Leasing Electric Brands Breakdown

With a few years under our belts in offering electric leases we’re beginning to see some trends in what our customers are interested in. Generally, over the past five years there’s been a steady increase in the number of customers looking for an electric car with us seeing 400 customers looking for a pure EV last year. There was a drop between 2021 and 2022 but I’d attribute this to the general decline in order take, due to the economic uncertainty faced as a country that year, rather than a movement away from electric, especially considering the bounce back in 2023. 

The graph below shows a breakdown of our electric leases by brand for the past three years. 

EV sales for Xcite

As you can see there are a few brands that consistently stand out as the most popular, namely Tesla, Volkswagen, and Audi, which shows that there are some brands that are being consistently chosen by our customers for their electric performance. However, there’s a number of the traditional big name brands that barely make the list in our EV orders, for example we’ve only ordered one Ford EV in the past three years.

Overall, there’s quite a mix of different brands that our electric customers have chosen, with some brands  being more popular depending on the lease deal prices we’re able to get for their EVs. If you look at the spike in Nissan EVs for 2022 for example this can be linked to the excellent lease prices on the Nissan Leaf (LINK) we had at the time.

Traditional Big-Name Brands Don’t Hold the Same Power in the EV Sector

We’re not seeing the same brand loyalty as drivers make the switch to EVs. Drivers who might have once been a loyal BMW customer aren’t staying with the brand when they look at electric models, instead they’re looking at the best electric cars from all manufacturers.

I think this is in part because of the two big concerns that drivers have when it comes to electric cars; range and charging. It doesn’t matter as much what the badge on the hood is if they can get a good mileage range and don’t have to spend an afternoon in a service station charging it. I think when we look at the data for ourselves over the years this definitely rings true, and speaking to funders and other brokers it does appear to be a trend across the leasing sector.

Electric Only Brands

When you think of an electric car it’s likely you think of Tesla. As a brand Tesla is a relatively new one, only founded in 2003, and since then they’ve become a titan in the EV sector. As a brand that was relatively unknown until the last five years or so, they’ve built up a formidable reputation and all based on EVs.

Similarly, Polestar has become a high-quality electric brand that customers recognise for its electric cars. In fact, it’s one of the few brands to rival Tesla in the EV sector. We’re also seeing some brands who are entering the UK market from abroad who are choosing to only offer electric cars such as BYD

So, whilst it’s clear that the traditional best sellers don’t hold the same power in the EV sector there is still some brand hierarchy, with the likes of Tesla and Polestar recognisable internationally for their electric prowess.

Eventually, though with the way that legislation is all car manufacturers will eventually be supplying electric only models so I expect that there will be some return of the traditional brands into the top spots for EVs. In fact, I think we’re already seeing that a little with Audi’s aggressive electrification through the e-tron range and the rise in electric customers choosing them over a Tesla or Polestar.

Additionally, as other brands advance their R&D and their technology is catching up with Tesla, allowing them to offer ranges of 350 miles plus and 20 to 80 per cent charging in under half an hour, customers who need a long range or rapid charging are no longer tied to Tesla if they want an EV. Something that you might spot when looking at EVs is that some brand groups are sharing electric platforms to enable each individual brand the best of their EV technology. For example, the Volkswagen Group share the MEB platform across their brands including Audi, Skoda, Cupra, Volkswagen and even Ford with some partnership programmes.

Is the Brand as Important to EV Drivers?

To answer the question of whether brands are as important for the electric driver I think that at the minute the answer is no. It’s about the tech more than the name at the minute and the orders we’ve taken reflect this. However, I don’t think that will always be the case. We’re already seeing a little brand hierarchy with the likes of Tesla, and as the legislation moves the entire industry to electric cars I expect we’ll see more brands trying to establish their unique electric qualities and create a similar brand structure to what we have in the petrol / diesel sector though not with the same brands in the same subsectors.

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