U.K. Buyers Happy With Their Plug-Ins

Despite early predictions that EVs only would be driven short distances, recent research in the U.K. and other countries indicates privately owned EVs are being driven distances comparable to those of internal-combustion-engine cars.

Alan Harman, Correspondent

August 20, 2015

4 Min Read
UK owners likely to buy another EV report says
U.K. owners likely to buy another EV, report says.

The ultra-low-emission-vehicle market in the U.K. has seen significant growth, and in the last quarter of 2014 and first quarter of 2015 it represents more than 1% of new-car sales for the first time.

A new report for the Department for Transport produced by Brook Lyndhurst says plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles account for about two-thirds of ULEVs being sold in the U.K., and battery-electric vehicles the other third.

Most private EV owners are middle-aged, male, well-educated, affluent and live in urban areas with households containing two or more cars and with the ability to charge at home.

Based on insights from more-developed EV markets, the profile of EV owners in the U.K. is not likely to change significantly, the report says.

“The evidence suggests more people in this same demographic are going to start buying EVs, and some people with similar demographics are likely to start buying them too,” it says.

“Based on the available evidence there are likely to be distinct segments of future EV purchasers in the U.K., all sharing similar demographics, but characterized by either strong pro-environmental attitudes, the desire to save money on fuel costs or an active interest in new technology.”

The report finds most fleet EV owners are private-sector businesses, working in a range of industries, with fewer than 500 employees and a small- to medium-sized fleet.

Private-sector businesses are expected to continue to represent the bulk of future EV fleet owners.

EVs typically are being used as the “main car” in private owners’ households, the report says.

The government and industry EV group Go Ultra Low say contrary to popular perceptions, the report shows 82% of ULEV-owning households in the U.K. use their electric car as their main vehicle, while for 20% of owners an electric vehicle is their only car.

And, despite early predictions that EVs only would be driven for short distances, recent research in the U.K. and other countries indicates privately owned EVs are being driven distances comparable to those of internal-combustion-engine cars.

Private owners charge their EVs primarily overnight at home and have a strong preference for doing this rather than using public or workplace charging.

“Most private owners are satisfied with their EV and positive about buying another in the future,” the report says. “This appears to be underpinned by EVs’ performance, comfort, low fuel costs and the ease and convenience of home charging.”

Range still is the greatest perceived downside of EVs for private owners, but the report says this needs to be seen in the context of the overall high levels of satisfaction with the EV ownership experience.

Fleet purchasers are generally positive about the experience of using EVs but, for some, EVs aren’t seen to offer the flexibility necessary to meet their needs and not all may be willing to change their operations to incorporate them.

The U.K. government aims for every new car in the U.K. to be a ULEV by 2040 and is spending £500 million ($784.2 million) over the next five years on a range of measures including financial support to help consumers meet the upfront purchase costs of ULEVs, through a plug-in car grant of up to £5,000 ($7,841), and investment in a national charge point network.

More up-to-date evidence is needed on the characteristics, behaviors and attitudes of EV owners in the U.K., the report says. To keep pace with the rapid development of the market and inform future policymaking aimed at supporting the growth of the EV market, it says evidence on EV owners should be collected on a continuous or semi-regular basis.

Among the report recommendations is a call for research to better characterize different segments of EV owners; collecting additional insight into the role of diffusion in the uptake of EVs; research into the nature and extent of longer-term EV ownership issues, such as battery life, maintenance and resale value; choice experiments or local trials to test how new-car buyers would respond to different packages of financial and non-financial incentives; and further analysis of charge-point utilization rates in different types of geographical settings.

Go Ultra Low head Hetal Shah says the report challenges the misconceptions many people still have when it comes to plug-in vehicles and reflects what is happening in the U.K. marketplace – demand is increasing rapidly, up 256% year-on-year.

Go Ultra Low is a consortium of automakers Audi, BMW, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault, Toyota and Volkswagen, plus the U.K. government and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

About the Author(s)

Alan Harman

Correspondent, WardsAuto

Subscribe to a WardsAuto newsletter today!
Get the latest automotive news delivered daily or weekly. With 5 newsletters to choose from, each curated by our Editors, you can decide what matters to you most.

You May Also Like