Why are Drivers Still not Switching to Electric Cars?

A recent survey by comparison website Confused.com shows that 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.

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. So what is holding people back from switching to electric-powered vehicles?

In this blog, we’ll explore the issues drivers are worried about when going electric and what needs to change to persuade more drivers to make the switch.

Electric cars are still too expensive

The higher upfront cost 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.

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/electric models all the time, with each generation being more cost-effective than the last. There is still some way to go, however, before electric cars are on par with conventionally powered vehicles.

Too few incentives for private buyers

A quick look at 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.

The difference can be explained by the much more generous incentives provided to business users. These incentives come in the form of tax breaks and other fiscal incentives which 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 to them is the Plug-in Car Grant that provides funds of £2500 towards the cost of a car valued at up to £35,000. And to add insult to injury, this grant was recently reduced from £3000, making a mockery of the government's commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

If the government is truly committed to delivering an electric vehicle revolution in the UK, they must put private drivers at the heart of policymaking and provide more incentives to tempt private buyers to buy electric.

Lack of 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 which takes several hours. To realise the full benefits of electric vehicles, rapid charging points need to be used.

The trouble is that the UK network for rapid charging points is not where it needs to be for the rapid take-up of electric vehicles. 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 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 within the next 18 months.

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.

The good news is 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.

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 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.