Please highlight key findings from reports and studies on CONSUMER SENTIMENT in the UK covered by the media that relates to electric vehicle sales, electric vehicle charging stations and power grid discussions that have been published in the past three months.
Hello! Thanks for your question about the consumer sentiment in the UK regarding electric vehicles. The short version is that in the UK, 41 percent of consumers are apprehensive about purchasing an electric vehicle because they are unaware of the total cost or convenience (ease of finding a charging point) of owning an electric vehicle. However, UK consumers are willing to purchase electric vehicles if electric vehicles have low running costs, cheap or non-applicable car tax or special government incentives. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.
With almost 37,000 plug-in electric cars in 2016, UK is the biggest market for electric vehicles in the European Union. Electric vehicles in the UK have grown threefold in the past five years and have a market share of 4.2 percent. Yet, the market penetration of electric vehicles is low, considering there are about 2.7 million new cars being purchased each year.
OVERALL CONSUMER PERCEPTION
BuyaCar.co.uk conducted a survey of UK car buyers. The survey found that while purchasing a new car, consumers in the UK are most concerned about the price (58 percent), fuel economy (55.2 percent) and style (48.5 percent) of the car. Green credentials or car’s environmental impact ranks last with only 11.1 percent. Austin Collins, managing director of BuyaCar.co.uk., states that although consumers care about the environment, tangible aspects of the car, like price, impact the buying decision more than intangible aspects like the environmental impact.
A survey by Venson Automotive Solutions found that 41 percent of consumers are apprehensive about purchasing an electric vehicle because they are unaware of the total cost or convenience of owning an electric vehicle.
CONSUMER PERCEPTION OF GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES
Currently, the UK government grants up to £4,500 for electric vehicles and bears 75 percent of the cost of installing a home charging station. Also according to the recent tax laws, drivers of regular cars will be taxed more than drivers of electric vehicles and will allow electric vehicles drivers to save around £100 per 1,000 miles driven. Organizations like lettings agent Chase Evans and West Middlesex Hospitals are utilizing electric vehicles for these tax benefits and cost savings. Although many consumers are still ignorant about the government incentives and initiatives, the new tax laws have encouraged about 29 percent of consumers to consider switching to an electric vehicle.
However, the government plans to reduce its subsidies and electric vehicle owners will have to pay a £140 annual charge for their vehicles. This change will likely cause a decline in the sales of electric vehicles.
SENTIMENTS AND EFFECTS ON SALES
Many consumers are apprehensive about purchasing electric vehicles because they are ignorant about the specifications of an electric vehicle. Almost 48 percent consumers are worried about the driving range and charging points for electric vehicles considering them slower and less efficient than regular cars. They are unaware that electric vehicles like Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S can operate for more than 150 miles on a single charge and there are more than 12,000 charging points across the UK. People are also unaware that 90 percent trips within London are less than 10 kilometers and therefore, are suitable for electric vehicles. As a result, although 29 percent might consider buying an electric vehicle, only 13 percent actually buy an electric vehicle.
A survey by The Engineer found that 32 percent of consumers believe that electric vehicles will encourage the development of other low-carbon technologies. This optimism is visible in the rise of the sale of electric vehicles in the UK, from 500 per month in 2014 to almost 3000 per month in 2016. However, 23 percent of consumers are apprehensive that the growing numbers will severely harm the UK power grid industry.
MOTIVATIONS AND DRIVERS HESITATION
A YouGov survey conducted by SMMT found that UK consumers are willing to purchase electric vehicles if the running costs are low (51 percent), car tax is cheap or non-applicable (46 percent) or the government gives special incentives for electric vehicles like a car grant (36 percent).
But only 13 percent of potential car buyers will actually purchase an electric vehicle. The consumers are hesitating to buy electric vehicles because they are apprehensive about not being able to find a compatible charging point (48 percent) and the high cost of electric vehicles as compared to regular cars (41 percent). The consumers are worried that due to the lack of adequate charging stations, they would miss important appointments or be stranded in the countryside because their electric vehicle would run out of charge and there would be no charging points nearby.
The effect of price can be currently observed on the market. Samuel Tombs, the chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, stated that the 2.9 percent rise in prices in April 2017 will cause car sales to slow down throughout the year.
Another survey by Venson Automotive Solutions found that some of the other concerns besides the above-mentioned ones are the servicing costs (31 percent), lack of opportunity to test drive (24 percent), the cost of insurance (19 percent) and the safety of the electric batteries (19 percent).
UK's Energy Saving Trust also found that the lack of variety of styles and sizes of electric vehicles that are favored by families is another purchase barrier for consumers.
To wrap it up, in the UK, 41 percent consumers are apprehensive about purchasing an electric vehicle because they are unaware of the total cost or convenience (ease of finding a charging point) of owning an electric vehicle. However, UK consumers are willing to purchase electric vehicles if electric vehicles have low running costs, cheap or non-applicable car tax or special government incentives. Thanks for using Wonder! Please let us know if we can help with anything else!