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Online searches for used electric cars surge 99% as fuel shortage and panic buying grips the UK

  • Searches for electric cars surge the day after fuel shortages begin
  • EV searches up 99%, hybrids up 15%, petrol down 4%, diesel down 2%

5 October 2021 Fuel shortages and panic buying prompted a big increase in searches online for electric and hybrid alternatives, according to new data from eBay Motors Group.

Searches on Motors.co.uk for electric cars soared by 99% from 24 September, the day after BP announced it would temporarily close some of its forecourts due to a shortage of fuel tanker drivers.

Hybrid searches grew by 15% during the same period, 24 September to 3 October, compared to averages recorded from the beginning of September. While searches for petrol and diesel used cars dropped by 4% and 2% respectively.

The boom in online searches for used EVs peaked from 24-29 September, jumping 115% compared to searches from the beginning of the month.

"What we're seeing is used car buyers giving serious consideration to electric and hybrid alternatives after seeing the media coverage of long queues at petrol stations," said Dermot Kelleher, head of marketing and research at eBay Motors Group.

"The current disruption to fuel supplies and the resulting panic buying is prompting some buyers to think about alternatives to petrol and diesel, many for the first time. 

"While the news that the army is being brought in to help improve the availability of fuel in the south east, the events of the last 10 days could be the trigger that EV consideration needs as we move closer to the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel engined cars," said Kelleher.

Data source: Motors.co.uk data, eBay Motors Group Data Warehouse, 1 September -3 October 2021.