What are the UK’s attitudes and perceptions towards electric vehicles?

 

The UK's attitudes & perceptions towards electric vehicles
Towards the end of 2021, it was reported that more than 740,000 plug-in electric vehicles had been registered in the UK [1]. A YoY percentage increase of 470% from 2020’s figure of 130,000. This growth shows that electric vehicles, consisting of both battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in-hybrid vehicles (PHEV), are becoming more and more popular for UK motorists. 

But how exactly does the UK feel about electric cars? What are our attitudes towards them and how much do we know when it comes to important information like charging costs and charge points? 

We surveyed 2,000 UK motorists [2] who do not currently own an electric car, to find out how they feel about electric cars; everything from how they feel about their looks and performance to how well they understand the cost savings. Take a look at our findings below to see how the UK answered.

Info-graphic showing how the UK answered questions on electric vehicles

Which car types do motorists find most attractive? 

Motorists are beginning to enjoy a wider range of electric vehicles to choose from when looking for a new car. As the advancements in electric technology are made, more and more engine options become available too. We asked UK drivers which car type, based on the engine category, they found most attractive to look at.

From the survey, 26% said they found petrol/diesel, also known as ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles the most attractive. Hybrid cars followed closely in second place with 25.7% choosing them and finally fully electric ranking third with 12.5% of the votes. Interestingly, 23.6% of motorists cannot tell the difference, with a further 12% saying they don’t think any type of car looks more attractive than another.

How aware are UK drivers of the potential cost savings when owning an electric vehicle? 

It is well known that purchasing an electric vehicle outright can be a higher average cost than that of a petrol or diesel engine powered vehicle. Our survey found that more than a third of the UK (38.9%) said that the purchase price is the biggest turn-off for them when looking at buying an electric car as their next vehicle. 

However, we found that 58% of people were not aware of the potential monetary gains of owning an electric vehicle. The correlation here seems to show that motorists are heavily put off by purchase prices, without realising the potential for saving money in the long run.

The top 10 cities who are the most unaware of the potential monetary gains

City
Are aware %
Are not aware %
1
Edinburgh
13.4%
86.6%
2
Brighton
13.6%
86.4%
3
Liverpool
15.2%
84.8%
4
Nottingham
16.9%
83.1%
5
Plymouth
16.9%
83.1%
6
Bristol
17.1%
82.9%
7
Glasgow
17.3%
82.7%
8
Norwich
20.6%
79.4%
9
Manchester
21.2%
78.8%
10
Sheffield
22.8%
77.2%

What are the potential cost savings for drivers?

There are lots of potential cost savings for EV drivers. Firstly, fully electric cars remain completely exempt from road tax, officially known as vehicle excise duty, as this figure is calculated according to CO2 tailpipe emissions. For those who do not own an electric vehicle (ICE), cars registered from 2017 onwards need to pay tax every 12 months, with costs coming in at £155.00. For those who drive hybrids, this cost is £145.00 [3]. For cars registered between 2001 and 2017, the vehicle tax rate is based on fuel type and CO₂ emissions. More of which you can see on the Government’s website

With the rising costs of petrol and diesel, electric cars bring about another benefit, with home charging costs being cheaper than a full tank of petrol or diesel [5]. In addition to this, drivers can also find free charging points, most noticeably at supermarkets, dealerships and park and rides [6]. 

Overall, drivers should expect annual running costs of owning an electric vehicle to be less than £2,000 – or as little as £30 per week. Compare that with conventional vehicles, where drivers can expect to pay an average of £2,200 per year – equivalent to more than £40 per week. This equates to a yearly saving percentage of 21%, or £200.00 a year in total. With the average driver owning their car for 8.6 years, this equates to a saving of £1,720 per car.

Are UK motorists aware of their closest electric charging points?

As drivers, we have a clear idea of where our local petrol stations are for the times we need some extra juice – but what about knowing where the nearest electric charging points are? As the nation continues to make a push towards owning electric cars, this information will soon need to become second nature.

Out of the 2,000 motorists we asked, Glasgow drivers ranked most aware of the locations of public charging spots (51%) followed closely by Southampton (50%). On the other end of the scale, Bristol drivers ranked most unaware (70%), followed by Leeds (64%) and Cardiff (62%). 

There are many sources of information for charging points available to motorists, aside from any in-built satellite navigation technology, which drivers can use to locate their local stations. 

How much do drivers think it costs to charge an electric car?

A key factor for drivers contemplating making the switch to electric vehicles is the cost of charging. Fuel prices across the UK have risen significantly in 2022 [7] and for those who are looking to save long-term, removing these sometimes weekly costs could be vitally important. 

When looking at the charging figures for a Hyundai Ioniq 2016 (38.3kWh battery), one of the cheapest cars to charge [8], and calculating how much it would cost to charge from 0 to 200 miles, it’s estimated that home charging would cost £12 and public stations would cost £16. Taking this as an average figure, how did the nation do when estimating the cost of charging an electric car? 

The majority of respondents (15%) selected a bracket of £5.01-£10.00, with the second highest proportion (14.1%) selecting £10.01-£20.00 – an option that fits within the average charging costs we’ve measured. Overall however, the median answer from motorists sat at £22.38, which shows that UK drivers are overestimating the costs of a full EV charge. 

One key statistic pulled from the survey responses is that more than a third (35%) of UK drivers do not know the costs of charging an electric car. With this figure being so high, it begs the question of whether or not motorists are receiving enough information around EV charging as they look to make a potential switch. 

How well do UK motorists know the ranges of electric cars?

To further find out how much the UK knows about electric cars, we asked what they think the average, real-world range of an electric car is. The results showed a vast range of answers, from 3% of people saying 0-50 miles to just under 10% saying 251-300 miles. The majority answer fell between 151-200 miles, with more than a fifth (22%) of respondents selecting the range scale. 

The average range of electric cars varies greatly. Therefore, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact figure to use as a benchmark. The EV Database [9] looked at 165 electric vehicles to find out their fully-charged ranges, and in-turn found an average to be 203 miles. The result showed that the UK underestimated how much an EV can travel, but not by much

Overall, it appears that UK motorists aren’t receiving enough information to develop a basic understanding on electric vehicles. As going fully electric is the next big step for the UK motoring industry, it’s important for UK drivers to be well informed of how these changes will impact and benefit them.

One way elmo are helping the UK to make the switch from internal combustion engine vehicles to fully electric is by removing the number one most voted reason for not having an electric vehicle, the purchase price, and offering a different solution by way of monthly subscriptions. 

Our electric car subscription service means motorists never have to pay high purchase prices or deposits and are free to try out new vehicles instead whenever they like, giving the consumer ultimate flexibility. 

For more information on our study, please get in touch at hello@elmodrive.com

FAQs

What type of cars do UK drivers find most attractive?

26% of UK drivers say petrol or diesel (ICE) vehicles. Closely followed by hybrid vehicles (25.7%) and 12.5% of UK drivers say electric vehicles.

What charge time would convince drivers to make the switch to EV?

0-30 mins, 43% of drivers say 0 to 30 minutes. 33% say 31 mins to 1 hour. And 11% of drivers replied 2 to 3 hours.

Which UK cities are least knowledgable about the cost of charging an EV?

Brighton residents were the least knowledgable about EV charging costs with 94.9% of respondents answering outside the correct cost range. Closely followed by 89% of respondents in Edinburgh, 88.7% in Leeds, and around 88% in Liverpool and Southampton. 

Are UK drivers aware of their nearest charging point?

39% of UK drivers say they know where their nearest charging point is located, with the remaining 61% being either unaware or unsure. 

Methodology

Data was collected between 4th to the 7th March 2022 through a Censuswide survey. The survey asked 2,000 UK drivers, who have a driving licence but do not own an electric vehicle, what their attitudes and perceptions are towards EVs. 

Sources

[1] https://www.nextgreencar.com/electric-cars/statistics/

[2] https://censuswide.com/ – 2,000 motorists (full driving licence, not EV owners), data collected 04/03/22 – 07/03/22

[3] https://www.gov.uk/vehicle-tax-rate-tables

[5] https://pod-point.com/guides/driver/cost-of-charging-electric-car

[6] https://www.zap-map.com/free-ev-charging-points-where-are-they/

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/money/2022/feb/21/uk-fuel-prices-record-high-oil-prices

[8] https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/new-and-used-cars/article/electric-car-charging-guide/how-much-does-it-cost-to-charge-an-electric-car-a8f4g1o7JzXj

[9] https://ev-database.uk/cheatsheet/range-electric-car

Data

The full survey data set can be found here.

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