New research from Volkswagen Financial Services UK (VWFS) suggests that one of the main perceived barriers to owning an electric car might be caused by a modern obsession with needing fully charged personal devices.
The research shows that more than half of Brits (55%) panic if they know their phone or laptop will run out of battery, suggesting that charging anxiety among people considering an electric vehicle (EV) could be influenced more by human psychology than by scepticism about the UK’s public charging network.
The term ‘charging anxiety’ has come to reflect the uncertainty some people feel when contemplating a longer journey in an EV because of concerns about how and where to recharge their vehicle’s battery.
Moreover, the findings also reveal that Gen Z and Millennials (77%) are most likely to panic if their personal device were to run out of battery. However, this age group are most likely to be prepared by owning a portable charger (68%).
However, younger people are more convinced than any other generation that electric cars will benefit the environment, with 66% of 18 – 24 year olds believing this to be true. Only 22% of this age group said they were not convinced, compared to 44% of people aged 65 – 74 and 36% of over 75s.
The exclusive research found that affordability remains the top issue for would-be EV drivers, with 38% saying that they cannot afford an EV, although 72% would consider an EV as their next car if money wasn’t an issue.
The second most cited concern was around the UK’s current public charging network. The research found that three in 10 people (31%) believe there are not enough charging points in the areas where they live and work. However, when we consider the average length of each car journey in the UK is fewer than 10 miles, Volkswagen suggested this could be another reflection of the nation’s skewed attitudes to battery life.
As of May 2022, there were in fact almost 33,000 public charging devices across the UK, not including the many charge points installed at home or at workplace locations, which are estimated to be more than 400,000.
If you haven’t already, download the Zap-Map app to find chargers near you. You may well be pleasantly surprised. Once you have identified your regular chargers on Zap-Map, you can ‘favourite’ them so they are easy to access. You can also save specific user filters – for example, if there are certain EV charging networks you prefer.
You may be pleasantly surprised to find chargers at the end of your street.
“The findings of our research make for interesting reading at a critical time for the automotive industry,” said Mike Todd, CEO at Volkswagen Financial Services UK.
“With public charging stations being installed at supermarkets, gyms and elsewhere, frequent top-ups rather than big weekly charges are likely to be the best way forward for many, especially those without off-street parking.
“This research shows how ingrained our devices and battery lives are in our everyday lives, and I believe charging an EV should be approached in the same way we top up a smartphone battery – something that’s much easier if you have multiple chargers within close proximity,” Todd added.
The study also found that people living in Scotland are most on board with the idea that mainstream adoption of electric cars will positively impact the environment, with just 29% of people disagreeing with this sentiment. Scots were also found to be the UK’s most patient demographic, with 16% of respondents saying they would be willing to wait more than an hour for their EV to charge to 100%.
In addition, people from the North of England are most committed to buying an electric car despite the rising cost of electricity, with one in four (25%) not putting off purchasing an EV despite increasing energy bills.
“We’ve seen an explosion in EVs in the last two years and in the next four or five years electric cars will become the preferred choice for many. We just need to make sure energy prices stay affordable,” said Quentin Willson, former Top Gear presenter and founder of the FairCharge campaign.
Use the route planner to plot out your charging stops on longer journeys.
“Many people don’t realise that Lithium-ion EV batteries are completely different to the batteries in our phones and laptops and so we need to educate new adopters to think differently about battery life, reliability and charging,” Willson continued.
“There are many EVs that now do 200 to 280 miles on a single charge and batteries in some of the earliest EVs are outlasting the chassis of the car. Just look at our roads and you’ll see that hundreds of thousands of EV drivers have folded electric cars into their lives and successfully use them without anxieties.
“Graze charging is now a thing, where people charge at home, top up at work, then again at the gym and also at the supermarket. I think charging anxiety really exists mainly among EV considerers as opposed to EV drivers.”
To search and plan for places to charge, many EV drivers use Zap-Map’s route planner, which allows EV drivers to plan a route in their electric car, based on journey parameters, EV models and driver options. The planner has three different routing modes – Autoroute, Suggest chargers and Show all chargers – and you can save and retrieve routes within the mobile app or in-car system.
“I don’t know anyone who’s not completed a trip because they couldn’t find a charging station. We don’t have petrol stations at the end of our roads or fuel pumps in our driveways. Even with our current infrastructure – which needs to improve – we can see that EV drivers are managing,” Willson concluded.