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Will UK consumers consider owning a full BEV in next five years?

22 May 2019 Tim Urquhart


A major study into consumer attitudes around electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK has shown that only around one in four consumers would consider buying an EV as their main vehicle in the next five years. The study which was conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), which is owned by a not-for-profit foundation overseen by transport industry companies, is one of the most comprehensive and detailed yet undertaken of consumer attitudes to EVs. Other key findings were that around 50% of participants indicated they were fairly or very likely to choose a PHEV as a main or second household car, or a BEV as a second car, in the next five years. In terms of range capability influencing the potential buying choice, it was also found that an all-electric range (AER) of at least 200 miles was needed for 50% of participants to consider owning a BEV as a main car, while an AER of 300 miles increased that percentage to over 90%.

One of the interesting elements of this survey was the methodology. It actually involved 200 mainstream consumers being given access to a conventional ICE (VW Golf hatchback GT Edition), a pure EV (VW e-Golf hatchback) and a PHEV (VW Golf GTE hatchback) version of the current Volkswagen (VW) Golf for three or four days. They were then surveyed on their responses to using the various fuel types.

Outlook and implications

The study is likely to make for sobering reading for the OEMs that are currently committing billions to electrifying their model offerings, of which VW is obviously just one. It is going to take a big commitment to selling and marketing the benefits of EVs to consumers, if take-up is going to accelerate. And while this is one survey in just one market, it is probable that similar results will be replicated across the other major Western European passenger car markets. Many Western European governments such as France and the UK are already talking about banning ICE vehicles wholesale from 2040. However, it should also be noted that any administration that bans ICE cars and forces consumers to make an expensive new BEV vehicle purchase without significant subsidies will face a considerable political backlash.

Posted 22 May 2019 by Tim Urquhart, Principal Analyst - AutoIntelligence, Automotive, IHS Markit

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