One in five car buyers now looking to go fully electric

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 10,000 users. 

This week’s announcement from Jaguar Land Rover that Jaguar will become a fully electric brand by 2025 is further evidence of the rapid energy transition currently taking place in the industry.

Importantly, the move towards electrification is no longer being driven solely by legislation and average fleet CO 2 emissions targets; it’s now being accelerated by the fact that buyers are actively considering electric power for their next car in larger numbers than ever before.

To reveal more about current consumer attitudes towards electric vehicles (EVs), this week we are excited to release the first findings from the What Car? 2021 Electric Vehicle White Paper – an in-depth study of 10,527 in-market buyers, made up of existing EV and hybrid owners, as well as petrol and diesel drivers.

The research found that 20% of in-market buyers are now considering a fully electric vehicle as their next car. This is a significant rise from 2019, when we ran our first Electric Vehicle White Paper; in that year just 8% of respondents said they were considering an electric vehicle for their next purchase. This rise showcases how EVs are now very much in the mainstream consciousness.

While buyer intent has more than doubled in the past two years, many of the concerns for new EV buyers remain. While greater model availability and advances in manufacturing have helped to reduce the proportion of buyers concerned about cost and stock availability, concerns over range and charging infrastructure have actually increased since 2019.

This year, 31% of respondents said they were worried about range, compared with 25% in 2019, while 18% said that charging was a concern, compared with 15% in the first study. Whether this rise is caused by the increased number of mainstream buyers who are entering the market with the intent to choose an EV as their primary car, but who have little access to home charging, requires more investigation.

Another key finding from the study was that the more time potential buyers spent researching their vehicles, the more their concerns were reduced. Concerns over cost fell from an initial base of 41% among buyers who had less than 10 days to research their vehicle, to 35% for buyers who spent more than three months researching, while buyers with concerns over charging fell from 18% to 16% when their research period was extended by the same amount.

With this in mind, it remains important for retailers to continue to highlight the benefits of EVs clearly to buyers, as well as to train staff to be able to answer any potential questions. Likewise, it is important for retailers to publish clear and accurate information on their sites and brochures because our previous research shows that buyers are still not fully informed on electric vehicles.

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