Nine-out-of-10 electric vehicle owners don’t see themselves going back to diesel or petrol

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 500 whatcar.com users.

Last week, we announced the winners from our second annual What Car? Electric Car of the Year awards, highlighting the best new and used fully electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the market today.

Sales of electric and plug-in vehicles are the fastest growing vehicle segment in the UK, and account for nearly 15% of the new car market this year *.

With electric ownership growing, we wanted to understand how current electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle owners feel about their cars, and importantly, whether they see themselves ever switching back to diesel or petrol vehicles. The study had 563 electric vehicle owners take part.

Nine out of 10 electric and plug-in car owners told us they don’t see themselves switching back to a pure diesel or petrol car in the future. When asked why, 65% of owners gave the reason that electric cars are better for the environment, while 62% said the tech and cars will only improve in the future, so they see no reason to switch over.

Lower running costs were highlighted by 56% of owners, while 50% said they believe electric vehicles are better to drive. The 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars was also cited as a reason for not switching back by 36% of respondents.

Among the 10% who said they are considering going back to petrol or diesel cars in the future, having a vehicle with better range was given as the main reason by 51% of respondents, with 20% citing the need to own a cheaper car in the future and 15% saying that they believed petrol and diesel technology will improve in the future to become more sustainable.

The study also asked electric and plug-in hybrid owners why they chose their vehicle in the first place, with 65% stating they wanted to own a car that was better for the environment. Nearly half (48%) cited lower running costs as a factor, while the new technology aspect appealed to 43% of owners. Tax savings were cited by 26% of owners.

With the vast majority of electric vehicle owners set to stay with the technology, dealers will have an easier time narrowing down the shortlist of replacement models when finance or lease agreements come to an end.

At the same time, the priorities for electric owners are clear; a vehicle’s environmental impact and its low running costs are the key reasons for ownership, so retailers should highlight these when dealing with potential buyers who are also considering a petrol or diesel model.