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Drivers in growing charge for electric cars

The number of motorists considering an electric or hybrid model rises by a third

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The growing electric crusade on the UK’s roads has received a boost after new research shows the number of motorists now considering an electric vehicle as their next purchase has risen by 32% in the last 12 months. 

The new study, by automotive servicing and repair company Kwik Fit, reveals that 11% of drivers who are planning to change their car soon, expect its replacement to be fully electric. This compares with 8% of drivers a year ago. 

When hybrid vehicles are included, the number of drivers anticipating opting for a low-emission model for their next vehicle rises to 37%, up from 33% over the last year.

In the past 12 months, hybrid or fully electric cars have overtaken petrol and diesel models as most drivers’ expected next vehicle.  A year ago, Kwik Fit’s research showed that the 33% of drivers who expected their next car to be a low emission vehicle were outweighed by the 41% who said their next car would have a petrol or diesel engine. 

This balance has now been reversed, with 37% now stating that their next vehicle would be low emissions, outstripping the 35% likely to opt for diesel or petrol. A quarter of drivers (28%) said they haven’t decided yet.

Regional divisions a challenge for policy makers

Of all the UK regions, drivers in London are the most likely to be considering switching to either a hybrid or fully electric car – 65% of drivers have said they are doing so. In Scotland, only 24% say they are opting for a low-emission engine in their next car.

The research indicates there is a challenge for policy makers looking to encourage drivers to switch to electric as soon as possible. The new research found that on average, drivers expect to change their vehicle in 21.6 months. Those expecting their next car to be electric plan to change their car in an average of 23.9 months, compared to 17.6 months for those opting for internal combustion models.

Although low-emission vehicles as a whole have overtaken diesel and petrol models as planned purchases, the number planning to go fully electric (11%) is still quite low, with several reasons given as potential hurdles.

The lack of fast charging points is the biggest factor, cited by 38% of drivers not yet considering swapping to fully electric.  In the North East, South West, South East and Scotland, the increased cost over an equivalent petrol or diesel model is the greatest barrier. For drivers in the West Midlands and the East of England, their biggest concern is the perceived restrictions on range of electric cars.

“This research shows that over the last 12 months car buyers appear to have passed a tipping point in the switch to electric cars,” says Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit. 

“However, although consideration of low emission models has overtaken that for petrol and diesel there is clearly still a lot to do to convince some drivers.  Some barriers to consideration can be put down to misperception or a lack of up to date knowledge and the industry must work together to address those areas. 

“But it is also vital that there is visible investment made in the charging infrastructure to ensure that drivers have the confidence to make the switch.”

Reasons drivers are not currently considering an electric car

Reason% not considering
Lack of fast charging points in the areas I commonly drive38
Increased cost over an equivalent petrol, diesel or hybrid car36
Restrictions on range / Inability to travel long distance on a single charge35
I would not be able to charge it at home33
I am worried that the batteries won’t last very long and need replacing26
I prefer traditional petrol or diesel engines16
I want to know more people who have one before I commit16
I don’t believe that they are more environmentally friendly than existing cars12
I don’t like the style of electric cars available8
There isn’t an electric car which provides the power I need8
Source: Kwik Fit

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Tom Johnston
Tom Johnstonhttp://johnstonmedia.com/
Tom Johnston was the first-ever reporter on national motoring magazine Auto Express. He went on to become that magazine’s News Editor and Assistant Editor, and has also been Motoring Correspondent for the Daily Star and contributor to the Daily and Sunday Express. Today, as a freelance writer, content creator and copy editor, Tom works with exciting and interesting websites and magazines on varied projects.