Electric vehicle uptake: Are the brakes coming off?

Written by Darran Messem, Director, Transport Practice

Newly published UK Government data shows a significant increase in the number of people considering buying an electric car, but the large gap between consideration and purchase shows substantial barriers to adoption remain.

The proportion of UK adults owning or thinking about owning an electric vehicle (EV) increased from 8% in 2017 to 12% in 2018, according to BEIS’s Energy and Climate Change Public Attitudes Tracker (PAT). When multiplied by the UK population aged 16 and over, this represents an estimated accessible EV market in the UK of between 6.4m in 2018, a rise of approximately 50% from 2017. There is a growing gap between considering purchase and actual purchase.

However, fully-electric (non-hybrid) cars accounted for just 0.9% of new car registrations (4,271 units) in the last quarter of 2017. Including plug-in hybrid car registrations takes this number to 2.8% of new registrations (13,600 units) an increase of 54%. As a proportion of all vehicles in the UK, plug-in light-duty vehicles make up just 0.3%.

The gap between consideration and purchase reflects a number of barriers, including purchase cost, vehicle range, access to recharging facilities, the variety of models available and concern about vehicle life and residual values. However the market is rapidly changing. In coming weeks we will be looking at new UK registrations and market data, and highlighting how communication can help close the gap.