Research reveals insights into the take-up of Electric Vehicles

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

columbiapaccar_mega_truckTRL and TNS-BMRB were commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) to undertake an investigation into the responses of early adopters of electric vehicles (EVs) to both the Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) and Plugged-in Places (PiP) schemes. The research was published this week as part of the Government’s Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Strategy which can be found at:

The work explored the contribution of these two schemes to the uptake of EVs. Views and experiences were sought from both individuals and organizations as to their experience of buying, owning and using EVs. In addition, the barriers to adoption were also investigated, by obtaining the views of those who had recently bought a vehicle other than an EV.

The research was conducted in two strands: firstly, a quantitative survey to provide new data on the characteristics and charging behavior of private and organizational EV users. Secondly, qualitative research aimed at providing an in-depth understanding of the influence of the PiCG and the PiP scheme on the car purchasing decisions of both groups; the barriers to EV purchase, and factors that influence the driving and charging behavior of EV users.

The study identified that the PiCG was important in EV purchase decision; with over 85% of respondents deeming it important. Those who has purchased EVs felt the amount (£5,000 or 25% of the vehicle price, whichever is the lower) to be appropriate, and improved the affordability of EVs. Most non-EV owners were, however, unaware of the PiCG and it was recommended that a marketing strategy be developed to publicize the PiCG more widely.

Around 40% felt that public charging infrastructure was important in their decision to purchase an EV and many expressed a desire for there to be a more useable network of public charge points. They pointed to a lack of compatibility between different charge point providers as being confusing and frustrating for EV purchasers and users.

One of the main barriers to EV take-up was identified as lack of knowledge relating to many aspects of purchasing and using EVs, as well as the current range of the vehicles. Non-EV purchasers were concerned about the range that an EV could achieve, whilst EV owners did acknowledge that concerns over the range the vehicles could achieve had presented them with challenges as users. Finally, amongst non-EV owners, the purchase cost of the EV was also considered to be a barrier. Even with the reduction offered by the PiCG, EVs were often deemed unaffordable.

The full TRL report is available at:

The problems with electric vehicles (EVs) is and remain the same regardless of what research and governments and that is that:

  1. The are expensive to buy and the costs for them will only go up and not down as rare earth, etc. become more expensive and also energy for production.

  2. Batteries have a very limited lifespan as do all and are about two-thirds to three-quarters of the cost of a vehicle for replacement and will need replacing about every three or so years.

  3. The emissions created in manufacture and use may actually be higher even – despite of the fact that none being emitted by the vehicle itself during use – than those of cars and trucks with internal combustion engines.

  4. The mining of the rare earth, rare and other metals, etc. for the building of EVs puts a serious strain on the environment.

And neither of those factors are considered and put into the equation when EVs are being promoted by industry, governments and even green groups as the answer to climate change. Electric vehicles are not going to save us. Only a total change in our use of personal transportation will, combined with other changes.

One can, therefore, but wonder whether the manufacturers of brown envelopes have had a field day once again. EVs are not carbon neutral, not even ultra low emission, if all factors are taken into account. Far from it, actually. So, why the lies. Think about it!

© 2013