It could be more than a decade before electric vehicles truly go mainstream as drivers are unwilling to commit until they can travel long distances on a single charge.
In a survey of 1,753 UK motorists by the RAC, the minimum range an electric vehicle would have to be capable of travelling in one go would be 368 miles before the average driver would consider buying one.
That would exclude all but one of the electric vehicles currently on sale in the UK. The Tesla Model S Long Range can travel 379 miles with prices starting at £77,700.
Bearing in mind concerns about range, it’s perhaps no surprise to learn that, on average, motorists don’t see themselves buying an EV until 2030.
However, as manufacturers and regulators work to push more low- and zero-emission vehicles to market in order to cut air pollution, the number of buyers looking to these models for their next purchase is on the rise.
The survey found that six per cent of respondents were planning to buy an all-electric model next, double the percentage of last year. Meanwhile, the number of drivers looking for all-electric, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles had seen a small increase from 12 to 15 per cent.
RAC head of policy Nicholas Lyes said: “It is very encouraging there is an increased willingness among drivers to go full or part electric when they next change their vehicles.
“But, while this is positive, it is also concerning that the average driver doesn’t see themselves owning a pure electric car until 2030 – a point borne out by the fact that less than one per cent of cars on the road are currently of this type.
“Drivers are also looking for a range that’s greater than all but one battery electric vehicle (BEV) on sale in the UK today. Despite this, the rate of take-up is beginning to accelerate with more than double the number of new BEVs being registered in 2019 than the year before. It was also the first time that more BEVs came on to our roads than plug-in hybrid electric vehicles which is an important milestone.”
Lyes also described the government’s plans to potentially remove the £3,500 plug-in car grant because of increasing sales as being “a blow to some would-be purchasers and may serve to hinder sales growth”.
Official industry figures show that less than one per cent of all vehicles registered in the UK since 2010 have been pure electric. However, more than a third of those 98,846 vehicles were registered in 2019 alone.