EV ownership risks becoming elitist unless the government provides more practical help for motorists make the switch, writes Fraser Brown of automotive consultancy MotorVise.
The negative publicity surrounding zero-emission cars, which has grown louder over the past six months, is breaking through and is burying itself in the consciousness of consumers.
This is underlined by the fact that fleet registrations of EVs are way ahead of private purchases. Ironically, this has helped achieve price parity with the internal combustion engine within the used market thanks to the release of a wave of fleet EVs at the conclusion of their two year lease agreement.
Dealerships are already beginning to see a slight rise in the second hand value of EVs. Meanwhile, the cost of new EVs, despite the arrival of more modestly prices models, remain too expensive for motorists to consider trading in their petrol or diesels.
A further stumbling block concerns those living in the third of UK homes without access to off street parking or a garage.
Instead of taking advantage of low off-peak domestic tariffs that home charging provides, those living in terraced houses, flats and apartments are reliant on public charging points. For many this option is not financially viable.
AM-online’s very own Road to 2030 Report published in April this year underlined the contrasts in price. It showed that, while EV owners with a home charger could save up to £130 for every 1,000 miles by charging overnight at home, the EVs of drivers using the most expensive public ultra rapid chargers, would cost £16 more to run.
Those with off-street parking and the ability to fit a home charging box will rarely use public charging stations, perhaps only in emergencies or during occasional long journeys. After all, most drivers travel less than 100 miles per week – well within the range of the majority of electric cars.
But for those with no choice, public charging remains a serious issue and failure to solve it will see a sizeable chunk of the population effectively barred from EV ownership.
Focused government policies are needed to overcome the negativity – centred on unit cost and charging facilities – to overcome the practical challenges of EV ownership. Otherwise, there is a real danger that the uptake of EVs will begin to recede.
Many of those withdrawn government incentives that were designed to reduce the cost of an EV should be restored and reinforced by tax breaks and VAT cuts.
For an administration so determined to achieve net zero and which is banning the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, it needs to tackle the negativity surrounding public charging.
The priority is not installing rapid charging points at motorway service stations (although still important) but in ensuring those without off street parking can access plentiful and cheaper charging points outside or close to where they live.
There are many options, including charging equipment being fitted to lampposts, walls, and kerbsides, telescopic pavement chargers, overhead charging arms and charging channels installed beneath the pavement to allow cables to be fitted safely and unobtrusively.
In addition, further encouragement is needed to persuade those with home chargers to make them available to others when not in use, creating a shared community charging network. Meanwhile, paying via a network app often delivers cheaper rates.
Many of the arguments around EV ownership have long been accepted – such as the environmental benefits, reducing the UK’s reliance on imported fossil fuels, and cutting air pollution. However, cost and convenience still reign supreme, and it is this negativity that must be addressed and quickly.