Consumers divided over electric vehicle revolution

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Older consumers, those on low incomes and rural households will need more support to switch to electric vehicles due to concerns about affordability, range and the UK’s charging infrastructure, new Which? research has found.

Electric car ownership has soared in the last few years and, with the government’s ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles looming, motorists are being encouraged to consider switching. However, Which? found there are stark contrasts between different groups of consumers and how they view the transition to electric vehicles.

The Which? survey found that while two in five people (44 per cent) are comfortable switching to electric vehicles, almost half (49 per cent) are not. The consumer champion found seven in 10 (71 per cent) 18-24-year-olds are comfortable switching to electric vehicles and around half (56 per cent) of those aged between 18 and 39 said they intended to buy one in the future.

However, only a quarter of those aged 65 and above are comfortable switching (26 per cent) or intend to buy an electric vehicle (23 per cent). More than half (52 per cent) of respondents aged 65 and above do not intend to buy an electric vehicle in the future.

Urban dwellers are also more comfortable transitioning to electric vehicles than rural residents, with almost half (47 per cent) of those living in urban areas open to switching and two-fifths (42 per cent) planning to buy one. However, only a third of those living in rural areas felt comfortable switching (34 per cent) or intend to buy an electric vehicle (36 per cent).

Sue Davies, Which? Head of Consumer Rights and Food Policy, said: “The mass adoption of electric vehicles is a key element of the government’s net-zero strategy, but while some consumers are ready to switch, our research shows older consumers and those from lower-income or rural households are less inclined to embrace the electric car revolution.

“It is vital that action is taken to address significant barriers including concerns about battery range, cost and the UK’s charging infrastructure that could deter motorists from switching to electric vehicles. Consumers also need more support to ensure they can make the decision to buy an electric car.”

Electric cars are currently more expensive to buy compared to petrol or diesel vehicles – a possible contributing factor to lower enthusiasm levels for switching among lower-income households.

The consumer champion found just a third of households (32 per cent) on lower incomes (£21,000 and below) intend to make their next car an electric vehicle and two-fifths (41 per cent) said they have no intention of buying one. This compares to more than half (57 per cent) in more affluent households (more than £48,000) saying they would buy an electric car in the future and only a fifth (21 per cent) saying they had no intention of buying one.


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Written by

Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.

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