Electric car ‘knowledge gap’ still a problem for buyers

This is the latest report in a series of weekly updates for industry colleagues from Rachael Prasher, managing director of What Car? and Haymarket Automotive. Quoted poll data is from more than 8100 whatcar.com users.

In March 2019, we published our Electric Vehicle White Paper, highlighting how a ‘knowledge gap’ is limiting electric car sales in the UK. In short, the lack of accurate and easily accessible information on electric cars is putting consumers off making the switch.

More than a year later, we wanted to understand whether the knowledge gap still persists in the industry, and what manufacturers can do to boost buyer confidence in electric vehicles.

The bad news is that, according to our latest poll of 8140 in-market buyers, 57.8% still believe that manufacturers do not have enough information on their websites on the benefits of switching to an electric car. Worryingly, 20.4% told us they weren’t even fully aware of the differences between an electric vehicle, plug-in, non-plug-in and a mild hybrid cars – demonstrating the scale of the issue.

When asked what information they would like to see about electric cars, 39.6% of in-market buyers told us they wanted better information on the real-world range of vehicles. This is something our Real Range initiative is helping to solve, by giving buyers accurate information on the likely real-world range of new electric cars.

Despite some of the latest vehicles being capable of more than 300 miles between charges, range anxiety remains a concern for buyers, and nearly a fifth said they want better insight into charging infrastructure. This shows that, while manufacturers are improving their products, there still isn’t enough information on vehicle charging.

Buyers also told us they want feedback from real owners when researching their car, with 11.2% asking for certified reviews from real owners to be shown on manufacturer websites. This is why we’ve been publishing real-world reviews from electric car owners on whatcar.com in recent months.

The good news is that 53% of the in-market buyers we polled said they were considering an electric, plug-in hybrid or hybrid as their next car. What this shows is there is real interest from UK buyers to go electric, but the information they want and need on the benefits of doing so still isn’t easily accessible or readily available.

For further insight from whatcar.com’s unique website data, please contact insights@haymarket.com