Mainstream electric and alternatively fuelled vehicle adoption will only be achieved if businesses are given financial confidence and policy support to invest in new technologies, rather than relying on consumers to lead the way. The argument comes as new insight from the AA and Rivus Fleet Solutions, released 14 November 2019, shows employees are likely to be more favourable than owner-drivers when it comes to jumping into a new electric vehicle (EV), due to the lower perceived personal cost and risk.
Along with reinforcing known barriers to EV adoption, including outright cost, range anxiety, perceived lack of charging infrastructure and a feeling of insufficient model choice in the market, the research also highlights an important gap between perceptions of operational fleet managers and their drivers regarding the benefits of electrification. The findings were revealed at the launch of the Operational Fleet Report 2019/20, the fourth iteration of research jointly commissioned by the AA and Rivus Fleet Solutions through research consultancy Populus.
While more than half (57%) of fleet decision-makers surveyed for the report thought their drivers would like to drive an electric vehicle, just 1% of consumers in an AA Populus Driver Poll expressed a desire to purchase an EV within the next 12 months. The numbers were higher in the Operational Fleet Report study when there was no time limit, with 13% suggesting they would choose an EV as their next vehicle. However, concerns around charging infrastructure and cost continue to be cited as barriers to entry.
Although there is a distinction between driving and owning a vehicle, the research suggests there is an education job to do to align perceptions of individual drivers with business preference towards electrification. The future is positive, however, with more than half (54%) of consumers interviewed suggesting they would be interested in having an EV at some point and only a third (33%) worried that an EV wouldn’t have enough range for their daily needs.
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Fleet operators interviewed in the research suggested drivers were responding positively to the EV driving experience, with comments about a smoother, quieter driving experience often repeated. One of industry experts interviewed for the report advised once you get a driver into an EV, they don’t want to go back to diesel. In addition, three quarters (73%) of those surveyed felt EVs could be better for drivers’ health than diesel or petrol vehicles.
Insurance Edge Comment;
There is a reality gap between the needs that most of have regarding personal transport, and the climate change agenda that is behind the switch to electric vehicles. Many of us don’t like public transport because it is unreliable, expensive and – especailly for women – dangerous at night.
Now let’s deal with another barrier; cost. Few people can afford 30K for a small hatchback, plus a 4K battery swop about five years after that initial buy. So until the price of an EV is LESS than a small petrol car, don’t expect a Klondike rush of consumers down at Arnold Clark.
Next up, range. You can put £30 worth of unleaded in the average small car and use it all week. No plugging in, no dirty wet cables leaving marks on your clothes and no arguments over the charging points with disgruntled cabbies or delivery drivers.
Until those problems are solved, by technology, manufacturers and politicians alike, the purchase of electric vehicles will remain the preserve of virtue-signallers, private and corporate, tplus the wealthier motorist who can afford two cars in the their household, and has space for a secure charging point in their garage/driveway. That two-tier private transport policy is not only unfair, but unsustainable in the long run.