Electric cars fail to spark public imagination

29 November 2013
By Edd Gent
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Only one per cent of UK drivers own an alternative fuel vehicle

Only one per cent of UK drivers own an alternative fuel vehicle

Electric cars have failed to catch the public’s imagination despite strong Government support, according to a survey of more than 3,000 motorists.

CO2 emissions are at the bottom of the checklist Britons use when shopping for a new car, the poll by Auto Trader found, and only one per cent of UK drivers own an alternative fuel vehicle (AFV).

Since January 2011, motorists have been eligible for up to £5,000 upfront cost relief on the purchase of a new electric vehicle but the survey showed that 35 per cent of drivers were unaware of this grant.

While 32 per cent of 17 to 24-year-olds said they were likely to buy an AFV, only 18 per cent of those aged 65 or over were likely to. The survey also showed that while 62 per cent of women said they cared deeply about the impact their cars had on the environment, only 39 per cent of men did.

Auto Trader group marketing director Jonathan Williams said: "The good news for car manufacturers is British motorists are taking an interest in electric vehicles when made aware of the benefits and cost savings. However, we're still a long way from convincing motorists to make the switch.

"Put simply, going green is not currently an attractive package. UK motorists are being asked to make huge compromises on aesthetics, investment of their time finding and charging their vehicle. It's no wonder why, on top of all of these factors, a higher upfront purchase price is too much of an ask.

"Therefore, despite a £400m investment and a further £500million on its way in 2015 from the Government, motorists are still lacking information on costs, efficiency and effectiveness of owning electric vehicles and, simply, choice. Clearly not enough is being done to incentivise both manufacturers and consumers."

The poll also found that 79 per cent of motorists agree the Government should be doing more to make AFVs more affordable and 89 per cent would like their vehicle to be more environmentally friendly if it did not cost any extra.

And more importantly, 80 per cent have not seen a charging point within five miles of their home and 73 per cent want more charging points.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: "The UK has one of the best packages of support in the world for these vehicles, encouraging industry development and people to drive them. The Deputy Prime Minister has just launched a call for evidence asking industry and others to share ideas on how available funding might be best used.

"But we are realistic about the pace of change and accept there are still many myths around this technology, which is why we are working with car manufacturers on a ground-breaking awareness campaign to launch in the new year to encourage more people to try these cars and take advantage of their much cheaper running costs and environmental benefits."

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