Twice as many people want an electric car than in 2018, but the average driver thinks it will be 2030 before they make the switch.

That’s the conclusion of research carried out by the RAC for its annual Report on Motoring. More than 1,700 British drivers were quizzed, and six percent said they would be going electric when it came to replace their vehicle. That’s double the proportion seen in 2018, but it’s still a small fraction of the automotive population as a whole.

However, there was more enthusiasm for eco-friendly vehicles when electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids were viewed holistically, with 15 percent of drivers saying they would opt for these technologies when they get a new car. That’s up from 12 percent in 2018. And the number of drivers switching to conventional hybrids, such as the Toyota C-HR or Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, was up from 18 percent in 2018 to 21 percent in 2019.

Toyota C-HR Hybrid

These figures come as the new car market is seeing record demand for new electric cars. EVs made up 1.6 percent of all new car registrations in 2019, while hybrids and plug-in hybrids took just under six percent of the market between them. Yet EVs still make up less than one percent of all cars on UK roads.

And most motorists seem to think they will stick with petrol or diesel power for their next car. On average, drivers said they would want a range of 368 miles from an EV before they would take the plunge, while the average year of adoption was a whole decade away, in 2030.

2017 Renault Zoe

The RAC’s head of policy, Nicholas Lyes, said the reluctance to switch to electric power before 2030 was “concerning”, and urged the government to continue subsidising EV buyers with the Plug-In Car Grant, which currently takes £3,500 off the cost of a new electric car.

“It is very encouraging to see an increased willingness among drivers to go full or part electric when they next change their vehicles,” he said. “But while this is positive, it is also concerning that the average driver doesn’t see themselves owning a pure electric car until 2030. Drivers are also looking for a range that’s greater than all but one EV on sale in the UK today, but the rate of take-up is beginning to accelerate with more than double the number of new EVs registered in 2019 than the year before.

2018 Nissan LEAF

“The high upfront price of electric cars compared to similar-sized conventional vehicles is still a barrier to widespread take-up, and the government has recently confirmed its Plug-In Car Grant (PICG), may not continue after 2020 due to an expected rise in sales. This will inevitably be a blow to some would-be purchasers and may serve to hinder sales growth.

“We strongly urge the government to keep the PICG in place in some form until at least 2022 to continue stimulating the market. We also call on it to abolish vehicle excise duty for ultra-low emission vehicles, effectively reversing its 2017 decision to start charging plug-in hybrid vehicles car tax. This move would be popular with 30 percent of drivers questioned for the RAC Report on Motoring who felt this should be scrapped.”

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
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