Cheshire based Swansway Group, recently reported on a record-breaking successful year for profit in 2020, with their end of year results showing significant growth for the business. During 2020, however, only 1.4% of the total vehicles sold, either new or used, were electric vehicles or EVs, with the remaining 98.6% of sales being the traditional combustion engine, or fuel/electric hybrid models.

1.4% may seem an underwhelming statistic, but reporting the EV sales only in percentage terms of the total sales fails to deliver the full story of the rise of the EV, and the movement that car buyers are making towards pollutant-free motoring.

In terms of numbers of cars sold, in 2020 Crewe Audi was the leading retailer of EVs across the Swansway network, with the impressive Audi e-tron models striking a chord with customers. Stoke Audi was the next best performer, with Crewe Volkswagen​ and Swansway Chester Peugeot coming joint third with their exciting EV models respectively.

Four months into 2021 however, the picture is already looking significantly different. At the time of reporting, Swansway Group’s total EV sales are already at 52% of 2020s’ final total. If this positive trend continues throughout the year, it is forecast that group-wide sales will reach a 150% increase on 2020 sales.

Looking back to 2018 when Jaguar launched their I-pace, they were the sole contenders for the electric crown and although some customers were persuaded to make the switch to an EV, spotting one on the highways way still quite the event. And as we reflect on sales performance for EVs in 2019, even though the other brands brought new electric offers to the market, the total sales of EVs across the network was still just 51% of the total EV sales in the first four months of 2021. In percentage terms therefore, 2019 to 2020 year on year EV sales growth is a staggering 360%!

Future growth is, of course, difficult to predict, but EV take-up seems particularly prevalent in the Crewe and Stoke areas, with a noticeable upturn in sales in Stafford in 2021, with Preston Audi and Oldham Volkswagen both starting to make an impact on the Swansway Group EV sales league for new vehicles, and Blackburn Audi the overall group leader for sales of used EVs.

The introduction of new models, like the recent launch of the impressive ID.4 has no doubt sparked interest in the EV market and tempted some customers to make the switch. Additionally the impressive Audi e-tron GT model, which was released this year, clearly delighted some discerning customers, as some of the Swansway dealerships’ allocation of models were totally reserved within hours of the stock being released.

Audi customers in Carlisle have, however, been slower to take advantage of the EV models on offer, with only one sale of a new vehicle and no sales of used vehicles so far in 2021. As the models available are consistent across all the regions, perhaps this later adoption behaviour could be attributed to less available infrastructure to support EV charging? A quick search of Zap Map which claims to show 95%+ of the public charge points available, quickly reveals reduced concentration of charging points in the far north west of England, compared with the numbers of charging points in the conurbations to be found in the Manchester, Cheshire and Staffordshire areas. As the prevalence of charging stations increases further north, Swansway Group will be watching carefully for the “green shoots” of EV sales growth in Cumbria.

Director John Smyth said of the EV sales performance,

“Whilst EVs remain a small percentage of our sales as a whole, the statistics do show a noticeable shift in consumer behaviour towards EVs, which we expect will develop further, as the types of models diversify and different price points appear on the market.”

Auto Trader’s Commercial Director, Ian Plummer said,

“Not only were there more electric vehicles sold in the first three months of this year than in the whole of 2017, but April sales alone topped 2018 levels. We can clearly see this steep trajectory in demand on our marketplace: last month, advert views for EVs had increased over 60% since the start of 2020, and up 30% on November 2020, which is huge growth in just six months. Today, as many as one in seven of our visitors look at an electric option during their car search.”

Lord John Grantchester, Shadow Minister for Energy for the Labour Party in the House of Lords, and Swansway Jaguar Crewe I-Pace customer said,

“In terms of the climate emergency and being a responsible citizen, I had been waiting to purchase an electric vehicle for two years. I wanted to be convinced of the technological capabilities and see better infrastructure development.

“When I saw the media reports and heard that the Jaguar I-Pace won European Car of the Year in 2019, I decided to investigate. The car is superb. It drives like a car and not like a new technology. We cannot wait for hydrogen. We cannot delay with hybrids. Everyone must change now.”

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