EV survey highlights divided opinions among UK drivers
by Becky Harrison |
posted 01 November 2019
In October 2019 we invited visitors to our website to answer a short online survey on electric cars (EV’s). 1,715 customers participated, including owners of petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles, as well as current EV drivers. From the results, we were able to better understand current views on this type of technology, as well as gather data on consumer trends.
In 2018 the International Energy Agency stated that “by 2030 there will be nearly 125 million electric vehicles owned by people around the world” yet the topic of electric cars still seems to have a polarising effect among drivers. Our survey results revealed just how split the public are, with 50% of participants stating that they would buy an electric car today, 49% stating they would not and just 1% confirming they already own one.
To address increasing environmental concerns, car manufacturers are working to produce the most capable EV’s possible. But while many participants suggested that the environmental impact is an encouraging factor in buying an EV, we identified many other concerns as to why so few UK drivers have switched to an electric car.
While price is not the only concern when it comes to buying an EV, it was the most important for those surveyed. This is possibly one of the biggest battles facing car brands today as the battery makes up a large portion of the overall cost of an EV and they are currently very expensive to manufacture. However, we expect battery prices to fall soon within the car industry, which in turn should help reduce the price of new electric cars, thus increasing sales.
Substantial work to be done to revolutionise the car market
The second-largest concern among drivers is surrounding charging points. In fact, 64% of those surveyed do not know the location of their nearest charging station. Despite being better for the environment and cheaper to run (according to the BBC a modern electric car costs around £4 to charge up to 100 miles compared to a petrol car which costs up to £14 to travel the same distance), if owners cannot find and use a charging station on a regular basis an EV is simply not a viable option.
We seem to be in a race against time to develop the charging infrastructure to support the electric cars already being produced. But the good news is that this has led to a huge amount of investment and innovation where charging is concerned, especially for those without a drive or garage. Grants have been issued by the Department of Transportation to see lamp posts fitted with plug-in points and BMW have introduced an induction charging pad. This 1-metre mat is to be fitted to the road allowing drivers to park over it while it acts like a wireless phone charger. The government are also seeking advice on whether all new houses with garages should have a compulsory built-in electric charging point.
But it’s not just charging facilities which must be significantly improved, many UK drivers are still not convinced that electric vehicles are the way to go, proving that a shift in mindset could be the most difficult challenge ahead.
The results above show that while interest in electric cars certainly exists, many drivers don’t yet see this type of vehicle as a practical and possible option. Yet this isn’t the case outside of the UK.
In March 2019, 59% of cars sold in Norway were electric, against only 0.9% in the UK within the same month. The Norwegian government has made no secret of the fact they tax cars they don’t like – petrol and diesel – while electric cars are exempt, which helps to explain their popularity. Norwegians also stated that further benefits include being able to use bus lanes and receiving free or discounted parking.
Just last week it was announced that green number plates would be introduced in the UK as part of a governmental campaign to encourage more drivers to opt for new vehicle technology. Those with green plates could enjoy similar benefits to Scandinavian drivers, showing that our government is looking at ways to incentivise UK drivers.
And we know that incentives work simply by looking at the popularity of the ‘UK Electric Car Grant’, whereby some electric car and van models were eligible for money towards the total vehicle cost. Part of this grant was cut early after a surge in orders exhausted funds. Furthermore, when Money4yourMotors survey participants were asked which factor would most encourage them to buy an electric car, the third most popular answer was the appealing potential of a government grant towards the cost of an EV.
With 70% of people not knowing anyone who drives an EV we need to see considerable improvements in terms of price points, vehicle range and capabilities, as well as charging facilities. Only then will we see a significant rise in the number of EV’s on UK roads.