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Motorists still unconvinced by electric cars

Majority of drivers need a bit more enticing before they leave behind the combustion engine, according to government figures.

Electric cars are starting to become a more common fixture on roads, but it seems the majority of British motorists are still unconvinced. A study by the government discovered 69 per cent of drivers would not consider an electric car or van.

[Insert joke about turtleneck]
[Insert joke about turtleneck]

40 per cent of drivers said they were deterred by having to charge up their vehicle, 39 per cent were worried about range anxiety (how far you can go on a single ‘tank’ of electric) and 33 per cent admitted it was the sheer cost of buying an electric vehicle that kept them from being an option.

Other factors included lack of knowledge (16 per cent), lack of choice (11 per cent) and the vehicle performance, size, practicality and looks (11 per cent). Both resale/residual value and safety features/record were a problem, too, for three per cent of motorists.

There was some positive (if you’ll excuse the pun) news. 14 per cent actually thought about buying an electric vehicle, according to the Department for Transport figures, but decided not to. 4 per cent said they were going to take the plunge but were unsure when.

Not exactly a huge uptake, then, but it shows people are at least the option exists. Just one per cent said they had never heard of electric cars of vans.

Women were more likely to admit a lack of knowledge of electric cars than men. The DfT figures also show those with a university degree were more likely to be concerned about range anxiety. On the subject of education, men were the most concerned about resale value, while men and women without a degree cared more about fuel/recharging and maintenance costs.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 37 per cent of drivers said the most important way to encourage an electric vehicle would be through cost. The second highest factor was ‘nothing’, suggesting people are either not bothered or happy with the good-old combustion engine.

“It is clear that the government have a long way to go to convince drivers that electric vehicles really are the future. On the positive side drivers are not worried about safety or comfort issues, but range anxiety and charging infrastructure remain real stumbling blocks,” Institute of Advanced Motorists chief executive Simon Best commented.

“For the good of the environment the IAM want to see quicker roll out of charging points and long term guarantees that the current £5000 subsidy will remain in place,” he added.

There’s no disputing wealthier families can only benefit from going electric – at least until car manufacturers can bring down costs or the government plug-in grant of £5,000 is increased. But the survey of 662 respondents with a driving licence does seem a bit small to be representative of British buying habits as a whole.

One country embracing the green revolution is Norway, a place where there is now one electric car for every 142 people in the country.

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