Consumer confidence in electric cars has dropped significantly from two years ago, prompting calls from concerned industry experts to apply pressure on the Government ahead of World EV Day (9th September).
A joint survey of 11,565 drivers in June 2023 by Electrifying.com and The AA has found that just 16% of people agree that the Government is right to pursue the 2030 deadline for banning petrol cars.
In addition, only 9% of respondents said their next car would be electric, with a staggering 87% stating that electric cars are too expensive to purchase (up from 81% in the same survey conducted in March 2021), while 66% said rising energy prices had put them off owning an electric car.
Just 8% of those surveyed have confidence in buying a used electric car, with 64% worrying unnecessarily that the battery won't last as long as a petrol or diesel car's engine.
It's also clear that concerns about charging are knocking consumer confidence. Despite the fact that at the end of August there were 48,450 electric vehicle charging points across the UK - a 42% increase in the total number of charging devices since August 2022 - 70% of those surveyed feel that public charging infrastructure is unreliable (up from 56% in the same survey conducted in March 2021).
The shocking findings have compelled industry experts to apply pressure on the Government to make significant changes - and fast - in the lead up to 2030. In a letter to Transport Secretary Mark Harper sent in June 2023, Electrifying.com and The AA have outlined the areas they believe policy makers need to focus on and have proposed a charter to help mass market consumers make the switch to electric, ahead of the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.
- Leadership: Appointing a Minister for EVs to coordinate different Government departments and oversee the transition to electric vehicles.
- Improved coordination on charging: Needed to ensure the levelling up of charge point provision and to fill the ‘EV deserts’.
- Infrastructure delays: Speed up the planning process and grid connections to allow charge point providers to invest with certainty.
- Chargepoint Mandate: The Government should create a ‘Chargepoint Mandate’ to show progress towards its goal of having 300,000 publicly available charge points by 2030.
- Support for local authorities: Increase support for local authorities who do not have the expertise or skills for the vital task of promoting and helping the roll out EV infrastructure.
- Used EV market stimulation: A targeted education campaign to give consumers confidence in used EVs.
- Short term fiscal incentives: These include reducing VAT to 5% for on-street charging to level the playing field with home chargers and introducing a targeted incentive to buy (on new and used vehicles) for lower priced vehicles.
Founder and CEO of Electrifying.com Ginny Buckley said: “On the surface sales of electric cars might look positive, but our recent survey results speak for themselves; Britain's struggling car buyers are increasingly hesitant to make the switch to electric, and unless action is taken quickly we risk faltering on the road to 2030.
“The recent backlash in the press will have done little to alleviate people’s concerns and it's time for the Government to take a lead and come up with a joined up cross-Governmental approach focusing on education, financial incentives and clear infrastructure targets to help consumers make the switch with confidence.
“The transition to electric cars is a critical issue, not only for the air we breathe in our towns and cities, but also for the wider economy and the UK automotive industry. Policy makers need to pull the plugs out of their ears and start listening to the concerns of drivers across the UK.”
AA President Edmund King said: “Ahead of World EV Day The AA and Electrifying.com are calling upon the Government to do more to help drivers switch to cleaner, greener vehicles. There is no doubt that the higher initial cost of EVs and charging difficulties, particularly for those without off-street parking, are putting off a significant proportion of drivers from being able to make the switch.
“Financial incentives are needed to help ‘level up’ the affordability for those drivers not able to benefit from salary sacrifice or company car discounts. Once drivers are able to go electric they will enjoy the financial, driving and environmental benefits and will not look back.”
Findings from the joint survey of 11,565 drivers, conducted in June 2023:
- Only 16% agree that the Government is right to pursue the 2030 deadline to ban sales of new petrol cars.
- 87% felt EVs are too expensive to purchase, up from 81%.
- 70% felt the public charging infrastructure is unreliable, up from 56%.
- 61% felt the national grid will not be able to cope, up from 48%.
- 70% don’t want to give up their petrol or diesel car, up from 56%.
- Just 9% said their next car would be electric.
- 54% felt lack of access to off-street parking would make owning an EV difficult.
- 46% said energy prices had put them off owning an EV.
- 73% are concerned about running out of charge.
- Just 8% have confidence in buying a used EV.
The suggested charter sent by The AA and Electrifying.com calling on the Government to initiate action in the following areas:
- Communications: A more concerted and co-ordinated effort across Government departments (PM’s office, Cabinet office, DfT, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Department for Business and Trade, Treasury, Health etc) to promote the benefits of zero emission vehicles.
- Ownership: Consider appointing a Minister for EV transition or EV transition Tsar.
- Coordination on charging: Whilst the private sector is rightly investing billions in the infrastructure more coordination is needed to ensure the levelling up of charging and to fill the EV deserts.
- Delays: Efforts to speed up the planning process and grid connections.
- Chargepoint Mandate: As manufacturers are working towards a Zero Emission Mandate ahead of the 2030 new ICE car and van ban, the government should create a ‘Chargepoint Mandate’ to show progress to the ambition of having 300,000 publicly available charge points by 2030 as outlined in the Taking Charge Strategy.
- Support for local authorities: Many local authorities do not have the expertise or skills for the vital task of promoting and helping the roll out EV infrastructure.
- Charge price clarity: The AA has discussed fuel price transparency with the Government and CMA and believe that guidance is needed on charging pricing transparency.
- Government car fleet: Government has said it expects to meet its 2027 target for its central car fleet to be fully zero emission. Currently a quarter of all its cars have been switched to ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) and this should be publicised further. Perhaps Ministers could be seen more driving EVs and talking up the infrastructure.
- Used market: A targeted education campaign to give consumers confidence in used EVs.
Short term fiscal incentives:
- Reduce VAT to 5% for on-street charging to level the playing field, we’ve calculated that it now costs around £1,000 per year to pay for charging in a small family EV if the driver has no access to home charging.
- Consider a targeted incentive to buy lower priced EVs for those on lower incomes.
- Consider reduced VAT on new EVs below a certain threshold.
- More free parking for EVs.
- Reduced residential parking permits.
- Delay the VED introduction for EVs, reduce the proposed rate of VED so that it is less than petrol and diesel vehicles pay and consider increasing the threshold for the luxury car supplement as several ‘family’ EVs now are over the threshold.
- Help for home chargers for those on lower incomes.
- Support for gigafactory investments in the UK to boost UK manufacturing green jobs.