What is holding back EVs in the UK?

Jon Lawson

The electric vehicle revolution has not quite accelerated at the rate that UK environmental activities had hoped despite the constant media attention on climate damage, the proposed 2040 ban on petrol and diesel cars and the numerous advantages to switching to electric. So, why is the revolution stalling?

According to a survey from the AA, there are a few reasons why UK motorists are reluctant to make the switch to an electric car. These are the findings:

EV costs

The most common reason that people are hesitant to change is the cost of electric vehicles. The poll asked 19,350 motorists with slightly over 35 per cent of drivers stating that the higher cost was the main reason. This is interesting because although the vehicles can cost more than a typical car upfront, owners can actually make huge savings in the long run through the reduction in running costs and the lack of road tax.

Range anxiety

Just behind the cost is range issues with 33 per cent of respondents stating that this was the major issue. This has been a big problem for the electric car revolution but the technology is slowly improving. Most electric vehicles can travel about 100 miles on one charge with the Telsa Model S being an outlier at 250 miles on just one charge.

Perceived lack of charging points

The lack of charging points came next with 27 per cent of respondents stating that more charging points where they park would make them consider an electric vehicle. Again, this ties into issues with range which is improving and the number of charging points the UK is growing rapidly - currently there are more electric car charging points than fuel stations. The survey also revealed that the lack of charging points by parking spots was more of an issue for the female respondents while range anxiety was a bigger issue for men.

Other reasons

These were the three main reasons but there were also a few others listed as to why people are hesitant. 25 per cent of respondents want a lot more rapid chargers along strategic roads while 16 per cent want a greater choice of cars in order to switch. There were then 15 per cent who stated that they would only make the switch to electric once the penalties for driving petrol/diesel become too high.

A few other key takeaways from the survey were that 68 per cent of respondents supported charge points being installed as standard in all new homes with off-street parking which goes to show that people do see this as the future of motoring. There were also ideas that were not as welcome, such as just 16 per cent stating that battery electric vehicles should be allowed to use bus lanes.

The survey reveals that there are still a few issues that the public has with electric vehicles and it may be a while before they are willing to make the change. Despite this, they can be a good way to save money and reduce environmental impact, plus the technology and infrastructure is gradually improving which should alleviate any issues related to charging and range. 

This was echoed by AA President Edmund King who stated “It is easy to say that all new cars should be electric by 2030 or 2035 or any arbitrary date but the reality is that much still needs to be done in terms of addressing the legitimate concerns of drivers regarding cost and supply of vehicles, as well as improving range and the ease of charging."

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