The Department for Transport (DfT) has published the results of its study on Public Attitudes to Electric Vehicles which has uncovered continuing anxiety towards the purchase of electric cars and vans from consumers.
When only considering the respondents with a full driving licence, the survey found that only around 6% were thinking about buying an electric vehicle (EV), with 69% reporting that they had not really thought about it, and 18% reporting that they have thought about buying it but decided not to.
Of the remaining 7%, respondents already owned an EV (0.3%), had never heard of electric vehicles (1%), didn’t need a car (3%) or didn’t know/ refused to answer (4%).
Looking at the factors deterring people from buying an electric car or van, the survey found that the most important issues putting them off buying an electric car were recharging (40%), and the distance travelled on a battery (39%) followed by cost (33%) and lack of knowledge (16%).
Respondents also reported concerns with limited choice (11%) and size/ practicality or looks (11%) of models.
When looking at the factors encouraging people to buy electric vehicles that the most important factors that would encourage them to buy an electric car were cost (37%) followed by “nothing” (23%).
Other factors included battery (distance travelled on charge) (20%), environmentally friendly (17%) and convenience of recharging (16%).
While an initial glance at the figures might appear disappointing to avid supporters of electric vehicles, further investigation reveals the overall picture might not be quite as clear cut.
It is estimated that there are currently over 10,000 fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on UK roads, with this number growing year on year.
In addition, while there were only nine EVs available from major manufacturers in 2011, this number had increased to 18 by 2014, with more on the way. Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) are following a similar trend with manufacturers like VW and Mitsubishi releasing PHEVs in 2014.
It will probably come as no surprise to many that recharging tops the list of concerns for consumers. Next Green Car recently launched Zap-Map, based around Zap-Map live that currently has over 6200 EV charge points listed, with that number increasing daily.
Electric vehicle ranges are also steadily increasing. The Tesla Model S recently launched in the UK with an official range of 240 miles between charges. For those on a more modest budget the Renault Zoe with an official range of 130 miles would almost certainly suffice for 99% of journeys.
Understandably cost is also a key concern for many consumers. However, an increasing number of EVs are now coming available on the second hand market with a used Nissan LEAF starting at around £12,725. More models are expected to become available as three year lease deals now draw to a close.
The extension on the plug-in car and van grant to 2020, combined with flexible leasing and purchase packages are also opening up the new EV market.
In addition, continued exemption from the London Congestion Charge for battery electric and some plug-in hybrid vehicles through the Ultra Low Emissions Discount Scheme, low vehicle excise duty (car tax) and company car tax (BIK rates) keep the whole life costs of EVs below their petrol or diesel equivalent in many scenarios.
Department for Transport, Next Green Car