New research: UK new car buyers ready to ditch petrol and diesels once price is right
Updated: Jul 11
All new car buyers in the UK are ready to switch to a plug-in vehicle as soon as the price matches those of petrol and diesel models, a new FairCharge report has revealed.
As long as battery-electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrids were sold for the same price as equivalent conventional cars, 100% of the 2,000 new car buyers in the UK, surveyed for the Driving Away From Fossil Fuels report, indicated they would opt for one.
The report, which looks at the drivers’ underlying preferences by comparing vehicle attributes, costs and specifications, reports that 47% of drivers would choose a BEV today if there was price parity between electrified vehicles and conventional ones – something which is not forecast to be reached until later in the decade.
The 47% of consumers who would now choose a BEV at price parity represents a seismic change from previous iterations of the survey – jumping from less than 1% of consumers in 2011 and 2% in 2015.
The study also raises serious concerns that the manufacturing industry won’t supply enough EVs to meet consumer demand without stronger government action. The report calls on the Government to be more ambitious with its EV targets, including with its proposed Zero Emission Vehicle mandate, so that the opportunity to go greener, faster is not missed. The report finds that the Government’s current proposed quotas will be set at a level easily met by the market in any case, and calls for the quotas to be set at the level of the Climate Change Committee’s least-cost path to net zero.
Crucially, the survey finds that earlier deployment of public charging infrastructure will not significantly impact consumer demand for EVs. This is because 81% of new car buyers surveyed have access to some form of off-street parking. The finding that charging infrastructure will not affect demand for new EVs cuts against claims made by some car manufacturers that policies such as the ban on new petrol and diesels from 2030 need to be scrapped due to a lack of public charging infrastructure.
Despite this, the FairCharge campaign are calling for the Government to abolish the VAT differential between public EV charging (20% rate) and home charging (5% rate) to ensure those without off-street charging aren’t left behind and are pushing the Government to ensure local authorities are better resourced to implement plans to improve charging infrastructure for that same group.
Quentin Willson, founder of FairCharge and former Top Gear presenter, commented:
“As someone who has been driving electric cars for over a decade the results of this landmark survey come as no surprise. We’re seeing more and more EVs on our roads as word spreads from delighted owners and drivers switch to electric to avoid the spiralling costs of filling up with diesel and petrol.
“But the Government needs ambitious EV quota proposals to ensure that the car industry has the right commercial environment to build enough EVs to satisfy this growing demand. We passed the tipping point of electrification last year and this year there are now some electric cars with waiting lists measured in years.”
Simon Williams, EV spokesperson for the RAC, which is a founding supporter of FairCharge, said:
“We know from RAC research the high upfront costs of EVs continues to be a major barrier to uptake, so it’s very encouraging to know that drivers would switch to an electrified car without hesitation if they cost the same as an equivalent petrol or diesel model.
“While the Government has been bold in setting the 2030 date for the end of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans, much needs to be done to bring new EVs down in price so they are accessible to all drivers.
“We believe the early removal of the plug-in car grant earlier this month was a mistake. Even though the grant had been reduced, it had helped successfully encouraged manufacturers to produce more EVs at a lower price point. Without it there is far less incentive for manufacturers to concentrate on this end of the market which is a crying shame for non-company car drivers who really want to go electric but can’t afford it.”
Stephen Metcalfe, Conservative MP for South Basildon, who writes a foreword to the report, commented:
“I’m delighted to have worked with the FairCharge campaign in publishing this report today – the findings are striking and indicate we are at risk of missing a golden opportunity to go greener, faster – and realise in full the benefits of the electrification of road transport.”
“We will be presenting these findings to my colleagues in Parliament today, and I hope that they will join myself and the 80,000 FairCharge campaign supporters to push the Government to ensure we seize this moment.”
The results of consumer choice survey involved a Discrete Choice Analysis, which enables assessing the values consumers place in various vehicle attributes to be quantified and investigated. Discrete Choice Analysis has been in use since the 1970s and was developed by Daniel McFadden which earned him the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2000. It was first used to successfully predict demand for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit and has proved popular in the transport sector for predicting uptake of vehicle technologies. The report details the full methodology of the consumer choice survey used in the study.
FairCharge will be briefing Members of Parliament and the House of Lords on the findings today at 4pm, during an event hosted by Stephen Metcalfe MP in which more than 30 parliamentarians are expected to attend.
FairCharge is a grassroots campaign with over 80,000 supporters headed by motoring journalist and EV advocate Quentin Willson. FairCharge is seeking to ensure the benefits of the EV revolution are available to all.
More information on FairCharge is available here: https://www.faircharge.co.uk/
The campaign is funded by the European Climate Foundation and the RAC.
The FairCharge change.org petition with 80,000 signatures: https://www.change.org/faircharge