The government recently announced that an extra £10 million will be invested in developing electric vehicles (EV) in the UK. 

The money will help to “scale up” manufacturing technology such as batteries, motors and electronics. It may also be used for proposals to create a ‘gigafactory’ to manufacture electric vehicles in the UK and to enable supply chains to make electric batteries en masse.

Previous investment in green transport

This funding is in addition to the £73.5 million that the government said would be invested in green transport innovation back in June. That money is to be shared between 10 projects involved in developing eco-friendly technology for the next generation of taxis, cars and vans. The projects focus on innovations such as recyclable batteries, ultra-lightweight components and advanced electrical systems. 

As well as helping to safeguard more than 14,000 UK jobs, the funding will help the UK to produce a greater volume of low emission vehicles and parts and help the British automotive industry to move away from its reliance on fossil fuels.

£500 million pledged for EV infrastructure

In another push to get consumers to make the switch to electric vehicles, in March this year, the government pledged £500 million to boost electric vehicle infrastructure by supporting the rollout of new rapid charging hubs. The aim of the initiative is to ensure that drivers are never more than 30 miles away from being able to charge their car.

Ban on fossil fuel vehicles

The government has also brought forward a ban on selling new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars from 2040 to 2035. With government advisors saying that this ban should be put in place in 2032 instead, this change could happen even sooner.

Are UK drivers ready?

So it seems the race is on to make Britain the home of the electric vehicle, but are UK drivers ready to make the switch? 

Here at LeaseCar, we conducted a survey of 400 British drivers to find out if there’s an appetite for going electric, what would tempt people to go electric and what stands in their way. 

Here’s what we found. 

The current situation

It may come as no surprise that the majority of respondents currently drive vehicles that rely on fossil fuels. In fact, the majority (59 per cent) of survey takers said they own a car with a petrol engine. Meanwhile, 25 per cent of respondents reported that they have a car with a diesel engine. A small proportion (seven per cent) of drivers said they drive a hybrid car and a tiny fraction (3 per cent) reported owning an electric vehicle.

Choosing EV in future

The majority of the people polled said that they would be likely to consider an electric car when purchasing their next vehicle, with 43 per cent saying they are very likely to do so and 40 per cent saying they are somewhat likely. Only 17 per cent reported that they are unlikely to invest in an electric vehicle.

What would convince people to switch?

When it comes to things that would make people more likely to make the switch to electric, price came out on top, with 70 per cent of respondents saying they’d be tempted to switch to EVs if they came with a low selling price. 

Running costs seem to be another major concern, with 62 per cent of survey participants saying they would be more likely to invest in an electric car if the running costs were cheaper and tax was lower. 

According to our survey, better infrastructure would attract more people to electric vehicles too. A large proportion (58 per cent) of participants said they would be tempted to buy one of these cars if there were more charging points available in the UK. 

The eco benefits of going electric aren’t being ignored either. Of the people polled, 41 per cent said they would make the swap to electric to reap the environmental rewards.

The challenges of going electric

The majority of people we surveyed (70 per cent) admitted they were put off making the switch to electric vehicles by the cost associated with these cars. 

Meanwhile, 65 per cent said a lack of charging points was a turn off when it comes to transferring from fossil fuel to electric-powered vehicles.

It seems that insufficient awareness and information is standing in the way of some people making the move too, with 21 per cent of our respondents confessing that a lack of knowledge is stopping them from opting for electric motors.

Another challenge the electric industry faces is a perceived lack of choice. Twenty per cent said they were put off by the lack of brands available. A perceived lack of style comes into play too, with 19 per cent saying that when it comes to design, electric vehicles simply don’t make the cut. 

Is the government doing enough?

With the government investing millions of pounds in the development of electric vehicles and the infrastructure required to make the UK EV-friendly, and with plans for a ban on fossil fuel powered engines being brought forward from 2040 to 2035, we asked people if they think the government is doing enough to fund zero emissions projects on our roads? 

The results were somewhat inconclusive. Thirty-five per cent of those polled said yes, they do believe that the government is doing enough. However, the same percentage said no, they think the government could do more. Almost a third (30 per cent) said that they’re not sure if the government is doing enough. 

So it seems that while the majority of people seem poised to switch to electric, despite its challenges, on this issue of whether the government could be doing more to make switching to electric easier, the jury is still out.