Electric cars still years away

Riley Riley

Research in the UK reveals buyers have no plans to make the switch to electric cars any time soon.

A survey of 1000 motorists reveals many drivers are looking to move away from petrol and diesel vehicles, but lack of charging infrastructure and confusing terminology remain significant barriers.

With the long-awaited publication of the Government’s Road to Zero report, new data from the UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace, Auto Trader, indicates 38 per cent of consumers believe the Government’s goal for at least 50 per cent of new cars sold to be electric by 2030 is unrealistic.

Drivers said that they will wait nine years before they will buy an electric or hybrid vehicle, with lack of charging infrastructure and upfront expense cited as the most common impediments — even though research indicates that electric cars cost less over four years.

With drivers changing cars on average every 2 or 3 years, this means they will likely purchase three cars before they finally put their money down on an EV.

Only 26 per cent would consider electric for their next car, the same percentage as when Auto Trader surveyed consumers in March 2017.

In general, consumers are increasingly mindful of the environmental impact of cars, with 56 per cent of respondents saying they care more about fuel types than they did 12 months ago.

Negative press around diesel cars has impacted their appeal among consumers, with 52 per cent admitting news reports have made them more likely to consider purchasing an alternative fuel car, including electric.

This is supported by consumers performing less searches for diesel cars and more for alternative fuel types (AFVs) on Auto Trader’s marketplace.

Diesel now accounts for only 47 per cent of searches as of June 2018, down from its peak of 72 per cent in June 2016 — interest in AFVs has grown from 2 to 4 per cent over the same period.

So, what is needed to persuade consumers to make the switch to electric?

Drivers are split as to whether the proposed ban is a positive thing – with 40 per cent for and against a ban.

And it seems existing government incentives aren’t helping buyers to make the switch either, as 74 per cent of those surveyed did not know that the government offers plug-in grants for buyers of electric and hybrid vehicles.

In addition to upscaling public charging infrastructure, there needs to be a clear roadmap outlined by the Government and industry leaders to reassure consumers.

The fact that drivers are prepared to wait almost a decade suggests many are holding out for greater technological capabilities, including increased mileage per charge and more efficient batteries.

Auto Trader’s findings also reveal the terminology surrounding electric vehicles, which 55 per cent describe as ‘confusing’, is another obstacle.

“There’s no doubt that electric vehicles are the future, however, our research indicates that there are still significant barriers to adoption, with greater investment in infrastructure and technology needed,” Auto Trader’s Erin Baker said.

“It’s also crucial that car manufacturers and the government alike ensure that language to describe electric cars is clear and accessible, rather than laden with technological jargon that consumers may find alienating.”

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