With petrol and diesel cars set to be banned in the UK by 2040, the electric car market is growing, with an estimated 223,000 electric cars currently on UK roads.

However, despite electric cars being cheaper to run and more environmentally friendly, a significant proportion of the British public is still hesitant to make the switch.

To shed light on this, price comparison website MoneySuperMarket surveyed 1,000 UK car owners to find out what would convince them to purchase an electric car. 49% of those surveyed said that they had never considered purchasing an electric or hybrid car. This is amidst a wider slump in car sales, with sales in the UK dropping for the fifth consecutive month according to The Guardian.

Furthermore, the survey revealed a lack of awareness of the the incentives available for those who buy an electric car, with 62% of people unaware that the Government offers discounts and grants on buying an electric or hybrid car. Currently, the UK Government offers grants of up to £3,500 for some low-emission vehicles.

For 51% of people, price was the biggest barrier to buying an electric vehicle. With electric vehicles is more expensive to buy than a petrol model by over £10,000, with most electric cars only available to buy first-hand, this is not surprising.

Electric car costs: Higher upfront, but cheaper to run

However, MoneySuperMarket found that although the upfront costs of petrol vehicles were the lowest, on average electric cars are 36% cheaper to run than diesel and petrol cars. This amounts to an average saving on fuel, road tax (with electric vehicles valued at less than £40,000 exempt) and car insurance of £2,109 over six years.

If drivers switch to electric in 2020, they would save almost £8,300 on fuel costs by the time the ban is enforced.

Another barrier to adoption is a lack of charging infrastructure. Although it was announced today that the UK now has more electric vehicle charging points that petrol stations, according to Nissan, as most charging points can only charge one vehicle at a time, investment in this area is still needed. The UK government recently pledged £2.5m to install additional charging points in residential areas.

MoneySuperMarket also found that access to charging can depend on geography. It discovered that while Greater London has with 4,807, or 1,804 people per point, the South West has only 1,673 points, 5,348 people for each one, and Yorkshire & the Humber has just 1,049.

With 51% of people saying they would switch if electric cars were cheaper to buy, and 48% would switch if there were more charging points, these are clearly two key areas to focus on in order to improve electric vehicle adoption.

A spokesperson at MoneySuperMarket said:

“Moving to electric isn’t just a way to protect the environment, over the long run, it’s more affordable. While the upfront costs will put many off, some haven’t swapped because of a lack of knowledge about electric vehicles, including Government discounts and grants.

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“It’s our hope that with this study, drivers across the UK can be a little more informed about their options and make the choice that’s right for them when they start looking for their next car.”


Read more: Electric car charging points surpass petrol stations for first time