The UK car buyer is thinking electric in 2021, so says the RAC;
Nearly eight-in-10 drivers (78%) think that pure electric cars are still too expensive when compared to conventional vehicles of a similar size, although a steadily increasing proportion are planning to choose one when they next change their car, research from the latest RAC Report on Motoring shows.
Nine per cent of the 3,000 respondents to the study said they intended to ‘go electric’ next time around, up from 6% in 2019 and 3% a year earlier, clearly highlighting drivers’ growing willingness to opt for a zero-emissions model. But with the current retail price of new pure battery electric vehicles significantly higher than their petrol or diesel-powered equivalents, they remain out of many drivers’ price ranges, prompting most to say they would like more financial help from the Government.
More than half of drivers (53%) said they would like to see VAT on zero-emission vehicles either cut or abolished entirely, with a slightly smaller proportion (48%) favouring a scrappage scheme to make switching from a conventionally powered one to a battery-electric model affordable. Three-in-10 motorists (30%) favour an increase to the current Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) of £1,000, taking it up to £4,000, which is arguably the most straightforward policy change the Government could implement if it chose to.
Making vehicles more affordable for drivers is not the only thing that could entice drivers into a pure electric model next time around. Motorists also want to know they can charge these vehicles up easily when they are away from home, something that will be vital for the estimated third for whom home-charging is not an option. More than four-in-10 drivers (43%) say they want the Government to set a binding national target for access to public chargepoints, such as ensuring 95% of the population live no further than five miles from the nearest chargepoint. Three-in-10 (28%) meanwhile believe the price of charging at public chargers should be capped.
The RAC Report on Motoring research also found the extent to which drivers believe the average range of battery-electric vehicles needs to increase before they will choose one over a petrol or diesel model – or rather how drivers’ expectations about the sort of distance they need to be able to go on a single charge might need to change, given that more than half (58%) of car trips are under five miles in length and the average car trip is just 8.4 miles long. For the second year running, drivers said they would want a car to have a range of some 375 miles – roughly the distance from Cambridge to Edinburgh – yet RAC analysis shows the average stated basic range of the top 10 pure electric cars sold in the UK stands at 235 miles. Only one model offers a range of 375 miles and upwards on a single charge.
IE Note; The idea that people who live in terraced houses and flats need to charge their vehicles elsewhere overnight has a big impact on car insurance. The question “where is your car parked overnight?” may need a drop-down menu choice of “random charging point,” as the default answer. But how will that impact vehicle security issues?
More broadly, the pandemic appears to have left its mark on the car-buying public, with only one in every 10 motorists (11%) expecting to upgrade to another vehicle in the next 12 months – a sharp fall on the 14% recorded in 2019 and 18% a year earlier. But perhaps even more telling is the finding that just over half of drivers (51%) do not expect to change their current vehicle within the next three years – well up on the last year’s 43%, and 35% in 2018. Meanwhile, a third of drivers (33%) in 2020 either don’t plan to get a new car, or do not know when they will replace their current vehicle, up from 25% a year ago.
Supporting drivers to go electric
In order to give peace of mind to drivers who have, or want, to go electric, the RAC has become the first UK breakdown assistance organisation to introduce EV Boost technology to its vans. The lightweight mobile charging units, which are fitted to conventional RAC vans, are designed to be the equivalent of a fuel can for a petrol or diesel vehicle. Find out more at rac.co.uk/innovation.