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Are car brands failing potential EV buyers?

Potential electric car buyers are increasingly confused and frustrated over their online experience, according to analysis by Sophus3.

Sophus3's report, “The end of the ICE age? Digital insights into the electric vehicle buyer” shows interest in EVs increased 60% in 2017

Sophus3’s report, “The end of the ICE age? Digital insights into the electric vehicle buyer” shows interest in EVs increased 60% in 2017

Interest in electric vehicles increased 60% year-on-year in 2017 according to latest figures from Sophus3’s “The end of the ICE age?” report, but despite the clear interest most consumers were found not to choose one, with the current UK market share less than 2%.

Sophus3 says this may be down to a number of reasons, including:

  • Frustrating online experiences – yet would-be EV drivers are more keen to book test drives.
  • Some car brands are marketing electric as an ‘alternative’ or ‘lifestyle’ choice, when Sophus3’s analysis shows that electric vehicle considerers are at a point of directly comparing running costs, monthly payments and ownership practicalities with petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric on a level playing field.
  • Some manufacturers present electric vehicles with “petrolhead” terminology, such as horsepower, top speed and 0-60mph time.
  • Most cars are now ‘purchased’ through monthly finance payments and the base level of payments favours petrol and diesel over electric.

Scott Gairns, Sophus3 managing director, said: “In today’s digital world it is vital that car-buyers are provided with all the knowledge they need, in the form that they consume it, and at the time they want it from those responsible for charging networks, selling cars and developing technologies. If not, there is a looming gap between “interest” and “purchase” that will leave older diesel and petrol cars on the roads, undermining the UK’s drive to be a leading electric vehicle market.”

Gain Solutions, a company at the forefront in the development of electric vehicles having worked closely with OEMs like Nissan, adds that poor preparation at both manufacture and dealer network level could wreck converting EV interest into sales.

Marcus Blakemore, managing director at Gain Solutions, says that while new EV sales are currently low, expectations are high and that the industry is reaching a tipping point with the demise of combustion engine cars.

He said: “Alternative fuel vehicles – both hybrid and electric – account for less than 5% in the fleet sector and only marginally more amongst private buyers so it’s still niche, but the next stage will be upon us very soon and the industry needs to be geared up for this.

“We’ve gained considerable experience and learned from the mistakes of the first generation of electric vehicles. The key takeout is that manufacturers and dealers need to get their houses in order if they are to satisfy the demand of customers’ interest in electric vehicles.”

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.