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COP26: Drivers reveal why they don’t want to switch to electric cars

A flurry of new reports have laid bare a reasons why swathes of drivers are still unwilling to switch to electric cars, with concerns on the Government’s ability to deliver suitable infrastructure, range anxiety and cars being quickly outdated.

The studies were published during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, where a rapid transition to EVs is being highlighted as a key factor to help nations meet net zero targets.

But despite the reservations, the UK’s automotive trade body says pure-electric cars will outsell diesels next year, as the recent boom in EV demand takes its first internal-combustion victim ahead of the ban on sales of new petrols and oil-burners from 2030. 

EV concerns: A flurry of new reports issued at the start of the second week of the COP26 climate summit have revealed a number of reasons why many drivers are yet to be convinced that electric car ownership is the way to go

Motorists don’t trust MPs to deliver infrastructure

A new study by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has found that many drivers are deterred from making a complete switch to fully electric vehicles as they have little faith in the Government’s ability to deliver the necessary infrastructure.

It comes after local authorities voiced their concerns about a ‘lack of coherent strategic direction at a national level, including no articulation of the vision for the future and lack of clarity over the role authorities were expected to play in delivering EV charging infrastructure’.

A survey of 3,404 UK licence holders found that almost two thirds (63 per cent) are not confident that the politicians will able to create a sufficient infrastructure for there to be a smooth transition to fully electric vehicles by the government’s own deadline at the end of the decade.

The report was revealed the same day that a British firm announced its plans to install 190,000 public charging points across the country before 2030, with most of the new devices funded by government-issued subsidies.

RSC’s survey there is enough public hesitancy about the transition to electric motoring that it could potentially derail MPs’ efforts to reduce air pollution levels, with over a third (34 per cent) of the panel said they do not intend to purchase a fully electric vehicle in the next decade.

Crucially, however, almost half (46 per cent) did not feel they had enough information to make an informed decision about whether their next car or van should be a fully electric vehicle or not. 

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) says one of the biggest hurdles for motorists is their lack of faith in promises to provide a suitable charging infrastructure

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) says one of the biggest hurdles for motorists is their lack of faith in promises to provide a suitable charging infrastructure

Professor Tom Welton, president at the RSC, said: ‘After we heard that the Government is delaying its Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy, this research shows there is much work to be done to fully convince the public at large of the merits of switching to fully electric vehicles – but more pressingly, that efforts to deliver critical infrastructure for both charging and recycling EV batteries should be a government priority. 

‘We must improve the flow of information around the government’s plans for transitioning to an entirely electric vehicle network, the ecosystem to support this and electric vehicles capabilities, all of which can help drivers to make informed purchasing decisions.’ 

Well over a third (40 per cent) of drivers polled by the RSC expressed concerns that EVs might have a negative impact on the environment, with over half of them (57 per cent) worrying there may be a lack of recycling options for electric vehicle batteries. 

Another 55 per cent are concerned by a shortage of the natural resources used to produce the batteries for EVs. 

A third of all respondents said they were unlikely to buy an EV until their batteries contain less ‘increasingly scarce and precious elements’. 

Range anxiety still a concern despite latest EVs covering over 300 miles on a single charge 

Almost all UK drivers overestimate the number of breakdowns as a result of problems with EV charging infrastructure and vehicle range, according to a new report by the AA.

In 2020, its patrols attended around 13,000 electric vehicle breakdowns, of which just under 4 per cent were for vehicles running out of charge. This figure has halved in the last few years.

However, only 1 per cent of 14,500 drivers polled could correctly estimate the frequency of this issue, with the average guess being two thirds (65 per cent) of all EV breakdowns were due to the main driving battery running out.

The reality is that the top two breakdowns for combustion engine vehicles and EVs are the same, with tyres and the smaller 12-volt battery being the main causes of faults. 

Despite many electric cars being able to cover more than 300 miles on a single charge, drivers are still concerned about range anxiety and 99% of motorists are wrong about how often EVs breakdown due to running out of battery

Despite many electric cars being able to cover more than 300 miles on a single charge, drivers are still concerned about range anxiety and 99% of motorists are wrong about how often EVs breakdown due to running out of battery

Drivers were also asked what they believed to be the average distance an EV could travel on a single charge, with only a quarter (25 per cent) correctly identifying a range of up to 200 miles. 

Some 6 per cent believed the latest models are providing less than 100 miles from a single charge. 

It comes as AA president, Edmund King, takes part in EV Rally of Scotland, or ‘EVROS’, which is a five-day event for electric vehicles, covering some of Scotland’s most rugged and hilly terrain including iconic landmarks such as John O’Groats and Ben Nevis. 

The event will see EV drivers cover more than 1,200 miles – that’s more than 150 miles per day and one mega day covering 315 miles.  

King, who will be driving or co-piloting the entire route, said: ‘The EV rally is very relevant being linked with COP26 where the international talks around climate change will be taking place. 

‘It should show that EVs can do long distances, even over Scottish terrain in the cold and they can be re-charged on those journeys. 

‘Personally, I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of an EV to explore some of that terrain in Scotland and to show how EVs work.’

AA President, Edmund King, pictured with an electric Polestar 2 before embarking on the EV Rally of Scotland this week

AA President, Edmund King, pictured with an electric Polestar 2 before embarking on the EV Rally of Scotland this week

Drivers believe today’s EVs will be outdated in 3 years 

EV technology is progressing so fast, the majority (62 per cent) of drivers think the latest cars could be out of date within three years, according to a report by the Smart Lease arm of the AA.

That’s despite many models on the market having capability for over-the-air software updates to improve range, reduce charging time and add new features. 

Of those drivers who have put a three-year best-before date on electric models, one in ten believe zero-emission vehicles coming off production lines today will be out of date within just one year.

The research shows a difference across the generations. Younger drivers (18-to-24 years) showed greater belief in the longevity of EV technology, with 8 per cent saying they thought it would last more than five years. 

Older drivers (65+ years) were half as likely to say this, with just 4 per cent believing current EV tech would still be current in five years’ time.   

James Fairclough, CEO of AA Smart Lease, said: ‘For some drivers the pace of change in EV technology means they want to hold off investing in the technology by purchasing a car outright. 

‘Our research clearly shows differing levels of confidence in the longevity of new EV tech amongst drivers. For those who aren’t confident enough to buy the technology, leasing is a great way to enjoy the benefits of an EV without the perceived risk of it dating quickly.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk