Why are drivers still not switching to electric cars?

While most new car buyers would consider buying an electric or hybrid car, 44% of them still expect their next car to run on petrol, according to a survey by comparison website Confused.com.

Only 17% of the survey's 2000 respondents said they would consider going fully electric, while 27% said their next car would probably be a hybrid. 

This is backed up by an RAC 2022 study that shows 14% plan to go electric when they next change vehicles. The good news is that this is up from 10% in 2021 and from 3% in 2018. While things are moving in the right direction, it’s still a long way behind diesel and petrol car sales. 

So, why are people not buying electric cars? Let’s find out:

  • Electric cars are still more expensive in general than their diesel or petrol equivalent
  • Many buyers feel the switch to electric is not incentivised enough
  • There is still concerns over battery life and charging point access

Electric cars are still too expensive

The higher upfront cost of electric vehicles remains an issue for most car buyers. Hybrid/electric cars are on average 34% more expensive than their petrol/diesel-powered equivalent. This puts them out of reach for most buyers.

Take the Volkswagen Up, for example. The standard petrol version costs just £12,000 while the electric e-UP costs more than £20,000. It’s almost impossible to find any new electric car for less than £17,000.

Why are electric cars so expensive?

Simply put, the lack of supply is making electric cars more expensive. As EVs are not being mass produced in the UK, then prices are remaining high. 

And while the total cost of ownership for the eclectic version will be lower across its lifespan, the upfront cost is enough to put most budget conspicuous buyers off, especially those looking for a small family runabout where electric cars make the most sense.

The good news is that as more electric cars make their way onto our roads, the cheaper they will become. Manufacturers are releasing new  hybrid and electric models all the time, with each generation being more cost-effective than the last. 

Too few incentives for private eletric car buyers

Unlike solar and other renewable energies, many feel that the government isn’t doing enough to incentivise buyers to make the switch to electric cars. There is a division on government incentives between private buyers and business users. 

Car registration data for 2020 shows that just 4.6% of cars bought by private buyers were electrically powered. This compares with 8.9% of cars purchased by business users and large fleets. 

What incentives are there for electric cars?

For business users, there are generous incentives provided to buy EVs. These incentives come in the form of tax breaks and other fiscal incentives that essentially allow business users to claim back 100% of the car's value as a tax write-off.

Private buyers are not afforded this luxury. The only incentive available for the average car buyer to choose an electric car is the Plug-in Car Grant that provides funds of £2500 towards the cost of a car valued at up to £35,000. This grant was recently reduced from £3000.

Lack of electric vehicle charging points

One of the benefits of electric cars is that they can be charged from home. However, this is mostly done by trickle charging that can take several hours. To realise the full benefits of electric vehicles, rapid charging points need to be used across the country.

Are there enough charging stations for electric cars?

Data from zap-map.com shows that there are more than 14,000 charging points in the UK, which means there are nearly twice as many charging points as petrol stations.

However, these charging points are not distributed equally across the UK. A recent report by the Department of Transport shows that more than 100 local authorities have fewer than 10 charging points per 100,000 people.

The UK network for rapid charging points is not where it needs to be for the rapid take-up of electric vehicles. 

The situation is changing rapidly, however, with approximately 7000 charging points being installed each year, which should ensure that any gaps in the network are closed quickly. 

Once the infrastructure is complete, it should encourage more private buyers to go electric. If installation rates continue at the current level, this should happen by the end of 2023.

Limited range is still an issue for most drivers

The lack of range from electric vehicles compared to the petrol/diesel equivalent remains a major barrier to EV adoption. Currently, the average electric vehicle range is around 202 miles. While this is fine for inner-city driving, it is not enough for a major journey.

This makes planning a long journey more stressful than with a conventionally powered vehicle, which can lead to something called range anxiety. 

To highlight this, a recent survey by Uswitch showed that 36.4% of drivers are worried about running out of juice without having access to a charging point.

When will electric car range improve?

The good news is that things are changing. Citreon predicts that range will increase to 400 miles by 2028. And with rapid-charging points being rolled out across the UK in record numbers, any gaps in the network will be closed quickly. 

While this won’t eliminate range anxiety overnight, it should give drivers more confidence that charging points are available when and where they need them. In the meantime, apps such as zap-map.com can help to reduce range anxiety for drivers.

The government is committed to zero-emission vehicles

The government has committed to a two-step phasing out of the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered cars and vans by 2035. The first stage will ban the sale of vehicles that are solely powered by petrol or diesel by 2030.

Will hybrid cars be banned?

Plug-in hybrids can still be sold after this time, providing the vehicle can drive a significant distance on electric power alone. The ban on hybrid vehicles will not come into effect until 2035. 

However, critics of the plan maintain that the government has not provided enough specifics about how the plan will be funded.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, for example, estimates that £16.7bn will need to be invested in charging infrastructure if this ambitious target is to be met. So far, the government has only committed to investing £1.3bn over the next four years.

The recent decision to reduce the Plug-in Car Grant from £3000 to £2500 is also seen as a major setback for persuading private buyers to abandon the internal combustion engine. More work, therefore, needs to be done if this target is to be achieved.

Despite concerns, the future of EVs is bright

Despite the issues raised, the major industries are marching ahead with efforts to realise a greener more sustainable future. Finance companies are joining forces with infrastructure developers, while the Big Six energy providers are increasing investment in renewable energy generation.

One such initiative has seen Hitachi Capital join forces with Gridserve Sustainable Energy. The aim is to develop several state-of-the-art hybrid solar farms to generate green electricity for a network of solar-powered forecourts.

The hope is that private initiatives like these will make up for any shortfall in funding from the government. This, in turn, should create the infrastructure needed to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles over the next 10 years.

Along with thousands of megawatts of green energy, schemes like these will also generate thousands of well-paying jobs. This will help to build a greener more sustainable economy for everyone.


If you would like to find out more about how you can fund a hybrid vehicle for private or business use, get in touch with the Leap Vehicle Leasing team today to discuss the various funding options available to you.