Nearly half of electric vehicle buyers do not know where nearest public charging station is

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 1400 users.

The research, based on feedback from 1483 in-market buyers, comes a week after the UK Government revealed a new public charger design that is set to make charging an electric car more accessible for owners. Despite there currently being more than 24,000 public charging devices available to electric car drivers, 47% of electric vehicle buyers told What Car? that they do not know where their nearest public charging station is.

Previous research by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) determined that the UK needs to invest up to £16.7 billion towards public charging stations by 2035 to support mass EV adoption, with more than 500 new devices needing to be installed per day. 

With that scale in mind, it’s perhaps unsurprising that just 9% of all buyers surveyed believe that the UK’s public charging network is currently good enough for them to make the switch to an electric vehicle. Likewise, just 14% of fully electric car buyers told us that the public network alone could support them in making the switch; the remainder will instead rely on home charging. This suggests that many new owners will rely extensively on home charging when using their electric vehicle, with public charging limited to a reserve role. 

What Car? also looked at when those currently in the market for a new petrol or diesel car think they’ll buy an electric vehicle. Responses showed that 40% wanted to stick with petrol and diesel cars for as long as they can, while 18% think they’ll make the switch to electric by 2025, and 23% after 2030 when new diesel and petrol cars can no longer be sold.

The research also asked buyers who are not in the market for an electric vehicle what the biggest hurdles are to them making the switch. A quarter said that vehicle range was the biggest problem, while 38% cited vehicle cost. The lack of an adequate public charging infrastructure was highlighted by 19%, while 10% had nowhere to charge a vehicle at home.

Cost and range are challenges that manufacturers are currently working through, with many EVs already offering lower or on-par total cost of ownership figures to their petrol and diesel counterparts. It is the public charging infrastructure which will need substantially more help from the Government before it is up to the task in supporting mass EV adoption.

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