Public awareness of electric vehicles (EVs) has risen in the last twelve months as 21% of people in the UK claim to know “more than a little” about the technology versus 18% in 2019, according to a new study by niche online advertising specialists, Encore Digital Media However, there is still room to educate people as six in 10 (58%) would like to learn more. Research was carried out by Savanta in a representative study of 2,000 UK drivers.
The last 12 months have seen positive shifts across the board in EV consideration:
- Awareness is growing – up 3% points on last year for EV, 2% points for hybrid models
- There’s been a 5% pointincrease in awareness in EV brands such as Renault, Ford and VW for EV
- Green issues are becoming more important; those saying the environmental impact of a car influences their choice of vehicle has increased by 5% points to 22%
- EV and hybrid cars as a first choice are up 3% points, to 15% and 19% respectively, versus petrol which has gone down in comparison
- Fewer people think EV technology is experimental, however more think it’s innovative and cutting edge rather than mainstream
- There’s been growth in positive perceptions of EV –in areas such as being reliable (up 6% points to 17%) and practical (up 5% points to 23%)
- Conversely, awareness in some EV brands has actually gonedown – such as Nissan (down by 2% points to 20%)
Product performance is less of a barrier
The study shows that fewer people think EVs are more expensive than they did 12 months ago (77%, down 5% points from 2019), fewer think there are problems with infrastructure (76%, down 7% points from 83%) and fewer believe they are less reliable (60%, down 8% points against last year).
However, there are other, new barriers to EV vehicle coming to the fore – such as not enough choice (up 4% points to 65%), unusual styling (up 7% points to 44%), and, worryingly, a 10% point increase in those who think EVs are ‘not for people like me’ (52%). 45% of people want EVs to look normal, not futuristic, which is up 4% points from 2019.
Hybrids are not an EV stepping stone
The 2020 study took a more in-depth look at hybrids and revealed that there is almost no difference between the perceived benefits of EV and hybrid.
For those considering purchasing, more would currently consider buying a hybrid (72% vs. 66% consider an EV). However, the research reveals that more people plan to buy EVs when technology improves (46% vs. 38% hybrid) and more believe EVs are the future than hybrids (65% vs 55% hybrid).
Environmental issues are more important in 2020
Green issues are becoming more important when choosing which car to buy (up 5% points since last year to 22%), the study shows. Meanwhile, 63% of people are interested in the environmental benefits of EV.
However, although on the rise, less pollution (27%) is still second to cost savings (40%) as the single most important reason for choosing an EV.
Age differences: young people would like to, but aren’t in a position to buy EVs
Although the youngest age groups – the 18-24s – are the most enthusiastic about the idea of an EV, they are not ready to buy (13% will buy in the next 12 months) or can’t afford (17% are willing to pay £25k+). Meanwhile, the over 55s are not ready to adopt the technology and 25-54s seem to need more proof (66% think EV is unproven).
The over 55s are the most likely to buy brand new but don’t trust the technology, 18-24s are keen in theory but are not in market. The realistically addressable market is currently very small and, despite their attraction to EV, is not the 18-24s age group.
The rural market could be more likely to drive a transition
The perception that EVs are much better suited to city use is slowly decreasing (46% agree, down 6% points from 2019). Data shows that 58% of those living outside towns and cities now show an interest in EVs, compared to 55% in 2019. The pressure on parking and the ability to charge at home suggest that it is actually easier to live with an EV out of town. However, despite being interested, 53% of people living out of town think EV is best suited for urban use, which provides an opportunity to re-educate a key audience receptive to more information.
Those who say EVs are inconvenient has shrunk by 6% points, while the concern for the need of more EV infrastructure decreased from 83% of people in 2019 to 76% in 2020.
Russell Kearney, Head of Automotive at Encore Digital Media, comments: “Whilst battery car registrations were up by more than 140% last year, this growth still isn’t plugging the gap left by demonised fuels types like diesel. With the industry commitment of making EV sales represent 10% of registrations by the end of 2020 in mind, and sales of EV currently sitting at 1%, to reach that target, sales would need to increase by 600% over the next two years.
“Our 2020 study shows a positive picture of improvement in awareness and perceptions of EVs and hybrids compared to 2019, and also identifies the areas of focus if the automotive industry is going to reach mass market EV adoption. Crucially, in an industry that demands brands communicate with their audiences on a customer centric level, it also clearly shows the different barriers that need to be addressed by audience group.”