Despite growing sales of electric vehicles (EVs) in the past couple of years, the automotive industry still faces an uphill struggle to convince the masses to adopt them. That’s the view of Cox Automotive and Regit, which simplifies how users buy, sell, and maintain their cars with just a vehicle registration.
In the latest issue of Cox Automotive’s AutoFocus magazine, the two organisations discuss the results of Regit’s latest user survey on EVs and sustainability. Philip Nothard, Insight and Strategy Director, Cox Automotive, summarised: “With the UK Government’s target date of 2030 for the end of new petrol and diesel vehicle sales fast approaching, it is useful to understand public perception around the EV transition. However, Regit’s survey shows that some traditional concerns surrounding range and efficiency still exist, with mass acceptance of EVs still a way off.”
Opposition to the UK’s 2030 ICE-powered car ban
Opposition to the Government’s ban on the sale of new vehicles powered only by petrol or diesel from 2030 still exists. Moreover, according to Regit, it is only growing stronger as the deadline draws closer.
Chris Ashton-Green, Regit founder and CCO, said, “Regit regularly surveys our users on a wide range of topics, with thousands of respondents from different market segments all keen to have their say. For example, of the 2,000 respondents that we surveyed, only 39% agreed with the 2030 ban on vehicles solely powered by internal combustion engines (ICE), whereas in 2021, the figure was up at 49%. There will be numerous reasons for this, but one is certainly the perception of just how green EVs are.”
Regit says that its users are more aware of the damage to the environment EVs cause due too much discussion in the consumer press about the production process. As a result, the company has been working to educate its users on other possible scenarios, such as hydrogen, an option that is gathering broader appeal.
EV price barriers still exist
Regit’s users also feel that the broader barriers to buying EVs that exist today were largely still apparent 12 months ago.
Ashton-Green added: “Of those barriers, price is still seen as the major hurdle with 73% stating this would prevent them from buying an EV, although this figure has improved slightly from the 79% that said the same this time last year.”
70% of Regit users surveyed have fears about EV range, which the company says could be considered a surprise even if it is only a marginal increase from last year’s 66%. However, it could also be argued this points to a lack of education in the consumer space about exactly how far some EVs can travel on one charge.
Ashton-Green added: “EVs are achieving much more impressive ranges today, but it tends to be top-of-the-range EVs like the new Mercedes EQS, which can do upwards of a staggering 450 miles. The big issue with range, or apparent lack of it, is that ranges are typically relatively low when we compare directly with price.
“Consumers at the ‘affordable’ end of the market, with £20,000 - £30,000 or around £500 per month to spend, will continue to see the range as a serious barrier. Their vehicle options are very inner-city focused, none of which top the 200 miles per charge barrier.”
Significant growth in used EVs, albeit the volumes remain low
EVs, including plug-in hybrids, now account for 33% of registrations in the UK compared to 21% in 2021. However, despite the strong increase in sales in recent years, alternatively powered passenger cars only account for 5.3% of the total car fleet across the European Union (EU). Furthermore, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids account for just 0.5% and 0.6% of the fleet, while 1.2% of all cars on EU roads are hybrid electric.
Nothard concluded: “Clearly, the industry should be concerned about the opposition to EVs as the ICE ban nears. However, consumers have become more informed about the upsides and downsides of EV ownership. The environmental impact is one of the reasons the Government set the ICE ban for 2030, and the very fact that EV production processes harm the environment is influencing consumer opinion.
“The semiconductor supply crisis for the industry has not impacted the EV sector as much as others and has helped boost sales in the UK. In addition, the current high fuel prices have begun to transition a proportion of new car buyers towards EVs earlier. However, high prices are still putting off the masses, particularly in European countries, where the EU appears to have a much more significant challenge to meet its climate ambitions.
“Where range anxiety proved to be the biggest barrier against transitioning, this is now behind both charging infrastructure and cost, proving to be the consumer leading concerns. However, it is positive to see that there is clear evidence education and understanding within the marketplace are improving, where the percentages of concerns about charge time, the lack of choice, and those who don’t understand the technology have all reduced since the last survey.”
To view the latest issue of AutoFocus, click here.