Price still not right for electric vehicles - UK survey

Published: 29 February 2024 at 09:00

Charging points for electric vehicles

Motorists see cost and charging infrastructure as main barriers to buying electric car

Concerns about high prices and charging infrastructure are still putting drivers off buying electric vehicles, according to a survey of 2,000 UK motorists led by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

However, automotive industry expert and ARU academic Tom Stacey believes many of these concerns are unfounded and fuelled by misinformation.

In the survey carried out by OnePoll for Anglia Ruskin University, 22% of motorists said they were actually less likely to buy an electric vehicle than they were five years ago. Despite Government plans to phase out the sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035, only 30% of motorists said they were now more likely to buy an electric vehicle than five years ago.

Only 4% of those surveyed said they were “very likely” to make an electric vehicle their next car, compared to 31% who said they were “very unlikely” to buy one next.

Half of all motorists said that cost (50%) was the main barrier standing between them and purchasing an electric vehicle, while 17% cited a lack of charging infrastructure such as public charging points. Only 5% said that safety was the biggest issue.

Stacey, Deputy Head of the School of Management at ARU, said that the price of electric vehicles has actually fallen significantly in the past decade:

“Electric vehicles were initially expensive – brands like Tesla are associated with these vehicles and 10 years ago one of those cars set you back £100k, so the public has understandably always associated electric vehicles with high prices. 

“A decade later, if you want a mainstream, reasonably good, electric car such as the MG4, it will cost £26k. The cheapest Ford Focus is £28k, so actually the electric car is cheaper there.

“In terms of charging infrastructure, thousands of charging points have been installed every month for the past five years, and the number of charging locations now stands at more than 31,000 in the UK – vastly outnumbering the 8,300 petrol stations.”

Londoners were most open to the idea of buying an electric car, with 48% saying they were more likely to consider buying one than they were five years ago, while in the East of England, the figure was just 27%, the lowest in England.

People in the West Midlands were most price conscious, with 58% selecting cost as the main barrier to purchasing one.

Recent figures show new electric vehicle registrations by private buyers fell by a quarter in January, and concerns about sales have resulted in calls for more policies to encourage their use. In the ARU survey, 40% of respondents said there should be more policies and regulations to encourage people to make the transition to electric vehicles.

When it came to helping the UK reach net zero carbon goal, 35% agreed that an electric car would be the most significant contribution they could make as an individual. However, 18% of motorists who said they were unlikely to purchase an electric vehicle also rejected the UK’s target of net zero carbon emissions.

Stacey added:

“A third of carbon emissions in the developed world come from vehicles. Petrol cars need to convert oil into fuel, which uses emissions before you’ve turned a wheel. Electric cars absolutely need to be part of the discussion about net zero carbon."