Demand for electric vehicles (EVs) has spiked over the past week amid the nationwide fuel supply crisis, according to the latest industry statistics.

Online car marketplaces Autotrader and heycar have picked up on the trend through customer behaviour on their respective online platforms.

Autotrader recently reported that searches for electric cars jumped by 60% on Saturday and Sunday of last week. Meanwhile, heycar reported that leads on EVs sent to its dealer partners more than doubled in the past week, a 159% increase compared to the same period last year.

“We are all familiar with the idea of range anxiety, but the events of the past few days mean we are entering the age of fuel anxiety,” said Ian Plummer, commercial director at Auto Trader. “A result of which led to a massive surge in consumer engagement for electric cars on our marketplace over the weekend. Not only did the number of advert views for new and used models increase a record 28% and 61% respectively versus the previous weekend, but we also saw a huge uplift in the number of people sending enquiries to retailers, with one sent every two minutes.”

Despite the growth in interest, Plummer doubts it will represent a major step towards achieving the government’s ambitious targets – as EVs remain substantially more expensive than their petrol or diesel counterparts, and fears of an inadequate charging infrastructure remain.

Car leasing comparison site LeaseLoco also spotted the trend, finding that searches for electric car deals made up a third (33%) of all searches over the past seven days, a 5% increase on the previous week. In September to date, 28% of all searches have been for electric car deals, with 23% for petrol deals. In August, EV searches made up a quarter (25%) of all searches.

John Wilmot, chief executive of LeaseLoco, said: “The government is assuring us that the fuel supply crisis will ease in a few days, but the general public is clearly sceptical judging by the lines of cars queuing at petrol stations across the country.

“The shortage of HGV drivers is unlikely to be resolved quickly, and car owners are understandably concerned that they could be left stranded if the pumps run dry. The impact on electric car demand has been immediate and searches for EV deals on our platform have gone through the roof.”

The fuel crisis began last week when BP announced they would be temporarily closing some of its petrol stations due to a lack of lorry drivers to transport fuel.

Following this announcement, long queues began to form outside petrol stations as people began to panic-buy fuel in the event of a possible shortage. On Sunday, the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) reported that up to two-thirds of petrol stations had run out of fuel supply, with the rest “partly dry and running out soon”.

Commenting on the news, Sean Kemple, managing director of Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: “The current fuel crisis may well be the catalyst for motorists to go green. The luxury of EV choice, alongside long petrol station queues, may be the tipping point for consumers who are steering towards non-carbon options.

“The UK car industry is at a pivotal point in its journey to electrification, with sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) continuing to surge. But for this trend to continue, we need to see the infrastructure in place to support AFV ownership. An extra focus on the quality, as well as quantity, of charging networks is essential, which in many cases are not working as they should be. The car market has the opportunity to build back stronger, and greener, but it’s down to government support and industry collaboration to make that happen.”