Government’s EV targets too cautious, says Baringa Partners

Nearly 1 in 5 people said they would consider an electric car for their next vehicle, but government needs to work harder to remove barriers and ensure continued support for the industry, says business and technology consultancy Baringa Partners.

Electric vehicle uptake may increase over the next few years to levels far above UK government targets. In research undertaken by Baringa Partners, 18% of respondents said they are likely to consider going electric next time they buy a new car – double the government goal for electric cars to make up 9% of the fleet by 2020. However, concerns over purchase price and range mean nearly a third of people believe electric cars will never overtake petrol and diesel vehicles.

Oliver Rix, partner at Baringa Partners, said: “The next generation may find it hard to believe the level of pollution and risk we currently submit ourselves to on our roads. If we’d asked people ten, or even five, years ago if they’d buy an electric car, the percentage saying ‘yes’ would have been virtually non-existent. But, after a sluggish start for electric vehicles, Tesla, though still a small company in terms of production, has managed to shift perceptions to such a point that large car makers are having to follow. We’re now seeing big companies like Volvo sensing this change in public perception and putting their money and brand influence behind them.”

However, the research also found that 32% of people believe electric vehicles will never overtake petrol and diesel cars. This is partly driven by the fact that 55% of people are worried about not being able to travel far enough to reach the next charging point, an issue the government has pledged to address. People are also put off by the cost (54%) and concerns about a lack of charging points near home (53%).

He added: “The cost of electric vehicles has been a turn-off since the start. The withdrawal of grant schemes isn’t going to help with that perception. But we’re now at a point where they’re becoming much more affordable; indeed, we predict that electric vehicles will become cheaper than diesel cars by 2022 and on a par with petrol ones by 2023. We’re also seeing improvements in the range of electric vehicles.”

To boost the number of electric vehicles on UK roads, Rix said:

  • The government will need to produce a convincing long-term road map to demonstrate how it intends to ensure that an acceleration in uptake can lead on to mass deployment.
  • Bolder and clearer policies are needed to address issues such as the impact on grids, integration with the energy system on a large scale, and interplay with autonomous vehicles, which could fundamentally change car use.

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The New Power Interview: Tim Payne from InstaVolt tells New Power that government projections that there will be two million electric cars on the road by 2020 are understated.

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