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Report highlights the issues that stop consumers purchasing electric vehicles

Published: 4 July 2013 - Rachael Morling

According to a report from the WWF, 1.7 million electric vehicles (EVs) need to be sold by 2020 and 6.3 million by 2030, if the UK is to meet its agreed carbon reduction target of at least 80% by 2050. However, a survey from Censuswide and Rexel has revealed that almost half of British drivers (41%) would consider purchasing an electric vehicle (EV) or hybrid vehicle in the next five years, but worries around costs and infrastructure are hindering them from making a purchase.

The report found that 62% of respondents perceived that the insufficient number of charging stations currently made EVs an impractical choice over diesel/petrol fuelled vehicles. A further 60% were also put off by the upfront costs, and 50% were concerned that they wouldn’t know where to charge their vehicle.

The fear of upfront costs identified by the survey highlights a lack of awareness of the incentives available from the Government to encourage EV adoption such as the plug-in car grant. The grant, which has been available since January 2011, offers consumers and businesses with a UK address 25% off the cost of a qualifying ultra-low emission car, up to a maximum of £5,000.

Furthermore, the survey showed that 72% of drivers have never seen an EV charger. There are currently, approximately 3,000 publicly accessible charge points in the UK and the Government is committed to supporting the market by investing £400 million over the next two years in EV. This includes a £37 million funding package for home and on-street charging, as well as charge points for parking vehicles at railway stations.

The Government has said that it expects there to be tens of thousands of electric and hybrid cars on Britain's roads by 2015, with the number reaching six figures by 2020. But worryingly, the survey found that 30% of Brits have no idea who they would go to for advice on EVs and how to charge them while 50% believe that they should ask a specialist manufacturer in EV and 20% think that their local garage would be able to help.

Brian Smithers, strategic development director for Rexel Northern European Zone, commented on the findings:  “The rate at which the plug-in vehicle market develops in the UK will be determined by a range of factors, including consumer awareness, acceptance and rising oil prices. Independent forecasts suggest that hundreds of thousands of plug-in vehicles could be on the road by 2020.We need to be equipped to deal with this but we also need to be ready to accommodate an even more rapid rate of growth should this occur.

“The survey results highlight that more needs to be done to raise awareness amongst the British public and reassure them that the necessary infrastructure will be in place in the not-too-distant future.

“We are currently working with manufacturer Rolec and the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) to deliver electric vehicle charger installation training in the UK to ensure that we are prepared for this predicted rise over the next few years”

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