LONDON – Electric-vehicle manufacturers look as if they’ve cracked the youth market in the U.K., with 24- to 34-year-olds most likely to own one.
At the same time, research by the Automobile Assn. reveals people over 55 are the least likely to own an EV.
Results of the Populus polling firm’s survey of 16,508 AA members conducted in mid-July will come as welcome news to the U.K. government following its announcement it intends to eliminate sales of internal-combustion-engine-powered cars by 2040.
“This may confound the ‘boy racer’ image that older people may have of young drivers,” AA President Edmund King says of the survey results. “Although overall numbers are still low, it shows that young drivers are taking an interest in new-car technology despite the fact that three-quarters (76%) are concerned about the high purchase price of EVs – but even that compares with 84% of older drivers concerned about price.”
The study also shows that among those who don’t own an EV, barriers to ownership stubbornly remain: the perceived lack of charging stations, the cost of buying an electric car and durability of the battery.
Other concerns include the potential time it might take to offset low operating costs against purchase price and limited range.
“In reality, these concerns are evaporating much more quickly than perhaps most people realize,” King says. “It seems that young drivers certainly ‘get’ the concept of electric driving, and our research consistently showed that it is older drivers who are putting up concerns that simply don’t exist.
“In fact, a third of respondents overall say they have no understanding of EVs.”
To counter that lack of awareness, the AA Trust has launched Drive Electric, a series of free sessions designed to help drivers understand EVs and how to obtain the best economy from them. The first sessions are being run in conjunction with the new Electric Vehicle Experience Center in Milton Keynes – the first center of its type dedicated to electric and plug-in vehicles.
“The fact is the average journey length in the U.K. is just 8.9 miles (14 km) and, for most families, an EV is the ideal economical and practical solution for a second car at least,” King says.
“New vehicles are coming onstream with much higher practical range (200 miles [322 km] will soon be very much the low end) and there are hundreds of new public charging points being installed every month.
“Government incentives are designed to not only contribute towards the cost of a new EV but also for the cost of charging points at homes and workplaces.
“Young drivers are most likely to want to charge their car at work (nearly a third, 32%, of 18- to 24-year-olds say so compared with 11% of 55- to 64-year-olds). Firms can get grants towards installing charging points and doing so demonstrates a commitment to the fast-changing automotive technology.”
King also welcomes the recent Transport for London announcement that £4.5 million ($5.8 million) is being spent on improving the on-street charging infrastructure in Greater London.
“Our study clearly showed that if such points were installed in residents’ parking places, it would bring down an immediate barrier to ownership for those living in flats, for example, who otherwise find it difficult to charge their cars,” he says.
“EV ownership has been growing rapidly but is still a long way from widespread public acceptance, given that registrations of plug-in vehicles recently passed just 100,000.”