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Why are EVs outselling diesel cars?

26 October 2021

For a long while now, the electric versus petrol and diesel debate has raged on with one underlying question: when will EV sales finally overtake those of their combustion counterparts?

At least in part, the answer appears to have arrived, with sales reports from the last few months suggesting that new car buyers are finally turning their backs on diesel options in favour of hybrid cars and EVs. This is significant news not only for car sellers but the industry as a whole, as we look towards a more sustainable future in the automotive sector.

The question is, does this put the diesel or electric car debate in a new light for buyers, or are the trade-offs between the two vehicle types still the same? Here, we’ll look at the recent changes in the diesel and electric sales picture, and where your considerations should lie as a buyer in the current market.

Diesel vs electric cars: the current sales picture

Recent sales reports have made ominous reading for new diesel car manufacturers. Back in August, the BBC reported more EVs had been registered than diesel cars for consecutive months prior (June-July) – the third time the battery electric vehicles had overtaken diesel in the past two years. The drop off for diesel continued into August, with Motor Trader reporting lowest ever share of sales amongst new diesel models for the month at less than 30%. On the contrary, hybrid sales saw 68% growth year on year for August, while EV numbers increased by 47%.

Moving into September, EV numbers continued to soar amid the fuel crisis and a wider UK car sales dip, with record monthly figures of almost 33,000 pure electric cars registered, close to 50% higher than September 2020. By comparison, general new car sales endured their weakest September for more than 20 years.

These are striking numbers for the hybrid and electric industry, particularly among such dreary reports for the rest of the car market. However, while EVs appear to have reached that all-important turning point against diesel cars, petrol options still dominate the market, largely holding steady at just under 60% of sales across Europe.

Are electric cars better than diesel?

This notable drop-off in sales for diesel cars can be largely attributed to the ongoing impact of the global shortage of semiconductors (it’s unlikely that the recent fuel crisis impacted September sales to any degree of note). However, that reasoning looks past an increasing and uncomfortable reality for the traditional end of the electric or diesel car debate.

Are electric cars better than diesel options today? Generally speaking, the answer is “yes”.

The long-standing benefit that still exists in the corner of diesel cars is the upfront cost – indeed, the initial asking price is typically the only thing stopping most new car buyers from choosing electric over combustion engine. Additionally, diesels tend to offer better power for performance and towing, but that’s typically where the pros end for diesel in direct comparison to electric.

Electric running costs vs diesel are drastically reduced, with cheaper insurance, tax, maintenance, and fuels costs all playing a sizeable role. Today’s EVs typically offer better technology throughout, as well as incredible efficiency and outstanding acceleration. And, of course, they’re emission-free after manufacture, making them a green choice and the archetype for the future.

Should you buy an electric or diesel car today?

It would appear that new car buyers are beginning to make a palpable shift towards EVs this year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean an electric car is right for you today. Here are a few considerations for either side of the argument if you’re making a buying decision between a diesel or electric car.

You should probably buy a diesel car if…

·         You want to pay less up front: diesel cars are notably cheaper in terms of initial asking price – the biggest stumbling block for buyers considering EVs.

·         You’re buying used: the used EV market is tiny currently, while the diesel market is full of viable options at a low asking price. Despite the drop in new car sales, diesel cars still enjoy a sizeable market share among older vehicles – 40% among cars five to six years old.

·         If you’re not ready for electric: some people don’t fancy an EV just yet. Diesel cars are also more economical and have lower CO2 emissions than petrol alternatives.

·         You want to protect value compared to petrol: diesel cars depreciate at a slower rate than petrol alternatives, meaning they’ll hold their value better for owners looking to buy and sell within a limited window.

You should probably buy electric if…

·         You’re looking to the future: the tide is undoubtedly turning and EVs are fast becoming the new normal. Getting an electric car now will stand you in good stead for the greener years to come.

·         You want cheap running costs: there’s no competition when it comes to electric running costs vs diesel. EVs are cheaper to run, insure, and often more reliable.

·         You want to enjoy yourself: EVs offer stunning acceleration and fun drivability.

·         You’re going green: EVs are the sustainable choice for the future: indeed, they’re the only choice for the future with the 2030 petrol/diesel and 2035 hybrid bans fast approaching.

·         You want to protect value generally: EVs carry excellent residual value, thus are great for anyone worried about the significant threat of depreciation.

·         You want tech: EVs are state of the art machines with the technology to boot. You won’t find better tech packages in non-electric vehicles.

Five of the best diesel cars on the market

·         Vauxhall Astra

·         Peugeot 508 SW

·         Citroen C5 Aircross

·         Vauxhall Corsa

·         Vauxhall Mokka

Five of the best electric cars on the market

·         Vauxhall Corsa-e

·         Vauxhall Mokka-e

·         Peugeot e-2008 SUV

·         Peugeot e-208

·         DS 7 E-tense

Electric or diesel car? Decide today with Robins & Day

While the diesel vs electric cars debate is far from over in the industry, you can settle it for yourself with a pick from our outstanding range of new and approved used electric, hybrid and diesel options for sale. With market-leading electric and diesel options from Peugeot, Citroen, Vauxhall and DS, you’ve got a choice of family cars, hatchbacks and SUVs from some of the most reliable names in the industry.

Take a look at our offers today, or get in touch if you’d like to know more about our product range

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