Look. Brand. Size. Safety. Those are consumer’s considerations in order of priority when buying a new car. Emissions only get a look-in at fifth place above after sales support and number plate.
However, change is afoot. The government’s ‘The Road to Zero’ strategy aims for all new cars and vans to be “effectively zero emission by 2040.” But with some apprehension amongst drivers about low emission vehicles, the government is using tax and regulation changes to drive adjustments in consumer buying habits.
In this article, we investigate whether the government’s tactics are influencing people to be more open to greener cars. And we explain why driver’s concerns about electric cars are unfounded.
The gap between government goals and consumer attitudes
“By 2050 we want almost every car and van to be zero emission. We want to see at least 50%, and as many as 70%, of new car sales ... being ultra-low emission by 2030.” The Road to Zero, July 2018
Bold statements like from the UK government have been backed up with tax and regulation changes to hit consumers in the pocket when making new car purchases. And research shows that this approach is working as buyers’ attitudes are changing.
Although most consumers (73%) still prefer a petrol or diesel vehicle over an alternative method of propulsion, people are considering a wider range of new car alternatives.
In 2017, when asked “what type of engine would you prefer in your next vehicle?”, just 16% would consider a hybrid electric vehicle and 7% would consider another alternative. This totals just 23% willing to consider a change to a greener type of car.
Only one year later and the total in 2018 willing to consider alternative fuels had increased to a total of 27%:
• 19% - hybrid electric and petrol/diesel
• 5% - all-battery powered electric
• 3% - other including ethanol, Contract Natural Gas (CNG), and fuel cell
So what’s stopping more people from going green? There are three major areas of concern for buyers: cost, range and infrastructure.
Cast out cost concerns with alternatives to buying
There’s no getting away from the fact that electric or hybrid cars are more expensive than the same make and model run on fossil fuel. It’s easy to be distracted by high headline figures. But what’s more important is the whole-of-cost figure. And that includes fuel.
Go electric-only and you can expect to save significant sums of money. It takes just £2-3 to charge an electric car to drive 100 miles whereas the equivalent in petrol or diesel is over four times as much, at £9-13 per 100 miles.
Multiply this cost saving up by the average UK annual mileage and you’re looking at a saving of around £800 in fuel per year.
You can also avoid taking out a loan or forking out huge sums from your savings by considering these alternatives to car ownership:
• Leasing - with a small deposit followed by affordable monthly payments, leasing is an increasingly popular way for drivers to get behind the wheel of a brand new Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV).
• Subscription models - like leasing but with shorter or no minimum contract term, subscription cars offer consumers the ultimate in flexibility. Switch from a small car for city journeys one month to a bigger car the next, or try out a ULEV and see how it fits your lifestyle. The main drawback is that subscriptions tend to cost more than leasing or buying outright, but that’s the cost of ultra-convenience.
• Salary sacrifice cars - beat both personal leasing and subscription models by enabling employees to take up a ULEV via their company car scheme. Still, with no deposit and all-inclusive deals, low emissions vehicles help you enjoy the biggest government tax breaks making this the most affordable way of driving off in a low emission vehicle.
Relax about range as single-charge distances increase
How far you can drive in an electric vehicle without needing to stop and charge is the second biggest concern for electric car buyers.
However, UK drivers average just 20 miles a day whereas most non-luxury, all-electric cars have a single-charge range of 80-120 miles. For most people this is more than enough to go out and home again where your car can be charged ready for your next trip.
For people making longer journeys, hybrid vehicles offer a great alternative. These cars have the same range as a traditional petrol or diesel cars but, thanks to the electric engine, use much less fuel and therefore have significantly lower CO2 emissions.
Increases in electric vehicle infrastructure make longer journeys achievable
To help realise their Road to Zero strategy, the government is investing £400m in charging infrastructure. And Highways England has funding to ensure that a charging point is available at least every 20 miles across 95% of the road network.
That doesn’t mean you need to wait to buy an electric vehicle. There are already almost 20,000 charging points across the UK and the numbers are increasing all the time. Take a look at Zap Map to find your closest charging station.
As work continues to make ULEVs even more driver friendly, we expect to see a continued surge in electric and hybrid vehicle take up. To understand whether going green is right for you, set your budget and do your homework on the makes and models of cars that will suit you best. Then find a proven provider who’ll make choosing a car easy.