Millions of drivers could be missing out on savings of around £860 per year in fuel and tax because myths still exist about running electric and plug-in hybrid cars.
The findings are the result of new research released today by Go Ultra Low, a joint initiative by government and the UK automotive industry.
According to the research, around 11.5 million motorists could benefit from the lowest cost, tax-free motoring by switching to pure electric vehicles, because in a typical year they don’t drive further than 80 miles in a single trip.
Millions more could benefit from other ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEVs), which can travel between 150 and 700 miles between charges thanks to range-boosting petrol and diesel assistance.
Huge potential for electrically-powered cars
The Go Ultra Low research shows that 70% of car owners are planning to change their car within the next four years, while three in ten say they have considered purchasing a ULEV. Two thirds of motorists under the age of 24 have considered a ULEV compared to just a quarter of drivers over 55.
The survey also reveals that the majority of motorists still don’t fully understand how electrically-powered vehicles work and believe outdated myths across a number of topics, from range and charging to cost and practicality.
Commenting on the findings, motoring journalist Quentin Willson said: “Ultra low emission vehicles make so much sense, they are cheap to run, hugely practical and now almost every major manufacturer has something to offer.
“The Go Ultra Low research shows that a host of misconceptions are hampering consumer uptake, and more needs to be done to educate people about the numerous benefits of these vehicles.”
Range anxiety persists, despite short journeys
A quarter of motorists misunderstand the range capabilities of ULEVs, with 16% believing electric vehicles are unable to travel 50 miles without recharging. Yet the research also shows that more than a third of drivers said the furthest they drove in a single journey during 2014 was 80 miles or less.
With pure-electric vehicles able to travel up to 100 miles on a single charge and other plug-in ULEVs boasting up to 700 miles’ range, electrically-powered cars are a viable, low cost option for millions of motorists.
Public understanding lags behind reality
The survey reveals that there is widespread lack of understanding about the speed at which the batteries in ULEVs can be recharged. Nearly 50% of drivers were unaware of rapid-charging facilities that can refuel a vehicle in roughly 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, motorists were well informed about recharging methods and infrastructure, with more than 90% aware that electrically-powered vehicles can be recharged at home, at work and via public on-street charge points.
However, almost one in ten wrongly believe that electric cars cannot be driven on the motorway, while nearly one in 20 think it’s dangerous to recharge them in the rain.
£4,150 savings on fuel and tax over five years
More than one quarter of motorists are of the opinion that ULEVs are more expensive to run than a conventional diesel- or petrol-powered car. This opinion is considerably higher among men (32%) than women (25%).
However, despite falling fuel prices in recent months, the cost of fuelling a ULEV remains far cheaper than a petrol or diesel vehicle, being as little as 2p per mile, compared to around 12p per mile for a typical petrol or diesel car – representing a saving of £660 a year for the average motorist.*
Thanks to CO2 emissions of less than 75g/km, all ULEV vehicles are exempt from most tax, yielding potential savings of around £850 compared to the average car on the road over a five year period.
Alex Michaelides, spokesperson for the Go Ultra Low campaign said: “With more than 8 million families in the UK running two cars or more, pure-electric vehicles are the perfect family run-around, while hybrid and range-extended cars offer great long-distance options.
“Whereas once there was only a handful of ULEVs on offer and limited recharging infrastructure, today there are all sorts of types and sizes of car, backed-up by a nationwide network of recharging points.”
Go Ultra Low
*Based on average annual mileage per motorist of 8,266 miles (calculated using Department for Transport figures for total miles travelled per year)