Greater incentives and information needed to meet EV targets
More needs to be done to encourage consumers to buy electric vehicles ahead of the 2030 ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars.
According to Cox Automotive, while progress towards the adoption of EVs is improving, the pace of action must be increased if manufacturers and dealerships are to meet decarbonisation targets.
While SMMT data for June 2021 showed electric vehicles continued to see significant growth despite the overall decline in the new car sector, clearly more needs to be done. Battery electric vehicles accounted for just over one in 10 registrations (10.7%), followed by 8.7% for traditional hybrids and 6.5% for plug-in-hybrids. This compares to 14.2% for diesels, including mild hybrids, but was still dwarfed by the 59.9% share for petrols and mild hybrid petrols.
And speaking last month, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said that to meet the 2030 target, consumers need certainty about the future, with long-term government commitments to incentives and confidence in the rollout of charging infrastructure nationwide.
It’s a view that Philip Nothard, insight and strategy director at Cox Automotive, agrees with: “While the EV segment is undoubtedly growing fast, this is against an overall reduction in new vehicle sales. Some major barriers still stand in the way of mass EV purchasing, including range anxieties and concerns around the high cost of new EVs. Many motorists still need more convincing to go electric, along with better financial incentives and information, if we are going to be ready for the switch to electric new vehicles by 2030.”
A recent consumer survey by automotive data specialist firm Regit, in partnership with Cox Automotive, found that more than half (56%) of drivers would consider an EV for their next vehicle purchase. But the survey also revealed that 92% raised concerns about the current charging infrastructure and 72% cited the cost of new EVs.
Similar challenges also exist in the used vehicle market. Regit and Cox Automotive’s survey also revealed that only 45% of drivers would consider buying a used electric vehicle. New EVs are more attractive to consumers than nearly new models due to incentives ranging from Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) plans that include manufacturer deposits, to the Government’s Plug-in Car Grant, often making ownership costs lower than buying a nearly new used EV.
Chris Green, Regit chief commercial officer and founder, commented: “UK motorists are becoming increasingly aware of EVs and their benefits. The fact more are considering them as their next car purchase shows a shift in attitude and awareness. However, there is more work to be done to convert consumers from considerers to purchasers, whether it be from the manufacturer, motor traders or the UK government.”
But consumer attitudes are showing signs of change and Nothard believes that the current sustainability movement, if backed by the right government incentives and supported by more information about EVs by dealerships and manufacturers, could accelerate EV purchases and make a difference when it comes to phasing out new ICE sales.
Outlining why greater incentives are needed, Nothard explained: “Following cuts to the Plug-in Car Grant and van and truck grants, combined with the higher upfront cost of EVs and lack of new vehicle supply, motorists are likely to stick with cars that are powered by internal combustion engines because they are cheaper and easier to run.”
But more information is needed too; Regit found that a little over half of consumers believe they do not have sufficient information to make the switch to an electric vehicle, while two-thirds are unaware of any incentives to switch to EV.
Nothard continued: “Dealers can play a crucial role during this transition for the new and increasing used EV market, especially in terms of informing their customers and helping them find the vehicle that suits their needs and driving habits. Affordable and accessible EVs are available on the used market and could provide the use case required to convert even more new EV sales.”
He concluded: “As a nation, we are clearly making progress on taking the case for electric vehicles to the consumer. Although recent initiatives such as the introduction of clean air zones are making people think twice about their vehicle’s effect on the environment, there is still more work to do to move motorists from consideration to purchase. Only then can we confidently predict that the automotive industry will reach its 2030 decarbonisation goals.”