The British have a gas shortage, so they’re Googling electric cars like crazy [Update]

Analysis of Google search data revealed that online searches for electric cars in the UK exploded 1,600% on September 24 – the day that gas shortages became a widespread problem across the country.

Google “electric cars”

September 29 update: UK car-buying comparison website carwow reached out to Electrek today to let us know that it, too, like Carguide (see below), has experienced a huge surge in site searches for electric cars.

Compared to the previous week, carwow says EV searches increased 28% on Friday, 43% on Saturday, and 56% by Sunday September 26. 

Sepi Arani, director of trade at carwow, said:

We’ve also seen a huge spike – 94% compared to last week – of people researching EV ownership and reviewing our electric vehicles advice hub, researching the range of vehicles, finding out about home charging, and searching for their local charging points.

Carwow says the electric car models that are currently available to purchase within the shortest amount of time in the UK are:

  • Tesla Model 3
  • Jaguar i-pace
  • Vauxhall Corsa-e and Mokka-e
  • BMW i3
  • VW e-up 
  • Volvo XC40

Used car information website found that online searches for electric cars skyrocketed to 16 times the average volume in one day, an unprecedented spike.

Electric vehicle registration is on an upwards trend in the UK, with 7,388 registrations of electric vehicles in August alone.

And frankly, it’s going to have to be, seeing how the country has banned new gas cars from 2030.

The gas shortage in the UK is likely to accelerate this trend and also increase the public’s interest in electric cars.

Why is there a gas shortage?

UK residents are lining up at gas stations across the country, only to come up short, not because of a fuel shortage, but rather, a truck driver shortage. There are also other factors, such as an aging population of truck drivers in the UK, but this is also heavily influenced by the pandemic and Brexit. The New York Times notes:

The Road Haulage Association, a trade association of road transport operators, estimates that Britain is facing a shortfall of 100,000 drivers. About 20% of those are drivers who left Britain after it voted to leave the European Union.

As a result, panic buying among the public has ensued.

The British government is hoping the situation will stabilize in the short term, but it has put 150 military tanker drivers on standby, just in case.

A friend who owns a hybrid Mercedes in Essex and has to drive around the country for work told me today that he had to visit no less than 14 gas stations before he finally found fuel.

And for a personal, somewhat humorous account of the tedious search for fuel, check out my former colleague Tim Burrows’ essay today in the Guardian, “In a queue for petrol in Essex, I found an unexpected camaraderie.”

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.