More than half of all buyers now considering switching to electric or hybrid

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 12,000 users.

Earlier this month, we launched our first ever What Car? Electric Car Awards, revealing the best electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles currently on the market. We created the awards to coincide with the growing demand for electric vehicles, and to help buyers make the right choice when purchasing their next or first electric or plug-in vehicle.

The timing could not have been better, because this week’s research of 12,029 in-market buyers shows that 59.1% are considering an electric or hybrid vehicle as their next car, suggesting electrified models are now firmly established in the minds of British car buyers.

Much of this success is down to the Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG). Since 2011, the Government has been incentivising electric models – and for a while, plug-in hybrids – with a subsidy to help offset the typically higher purchase prices of electric models.

Despite prices decreasing in recent years, cost remains a barrier to electric and plug-in vehicle adoption for more 27.3% of our respondents. With price such a crucial factor for potential buyers, 53.5% tell us the current PiCG – which is worth up to £3,000 or 35% of the vehicle’s value for solely electric cars costing less than £50,000 – will influence their purchase decision, showing the need for ongoing Government support for electric and plug-in vehicles.

When asked if they would like to see further subsidies available for electric and plug-in vehicles, 74.1% of our respondents said yes, indicating that the return of incentives for plug-in hybrid buyers would be welcomed.

Changing the mindset of society on something so entrenched in our psyche as our reliance on petrol and diesel was always going to require Government subsidies and incentives. What our latest research shows is that this investment is starting to pay off; electric and hybrid vehicles are gradually becoming a primary consideration for buyers.

Of course, there are still a few more hurdles to overcome besides the cost of purchase. Charging infrastructure remains a concern for 30.0% of buyers, while 25.5% feel electric vehicles still do not have enough range to suit their driving requirements. So, the education of consumers by car makers and financial incentives from Government are still essential if electrified models are to fulfil their potential.

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