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One in four Britons plan to buy an electric car in the next five years

One in four Britons plan to buy an electric car in the coming years as the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars approaches, new research suggests.

Some 24 per cent of people, which equates to around 6.5million, said they intended to buy an electric vehicle or a plug-in hybrid in the next five years, according to a survey by energy regulator Ofgem. 

However, those unconvinced by making the switch to electric cars are still a bigger proportion, with a over a third, or 38 per cent, saying they were unlikely to buy one in the near future.

Charging points: Over a third of people are worried about having nowhere to charge their electric vehicle close to home

The main reason for that is always the same: price. Three in five, or around 60 per cent, said electric cars were too expensive, while 38 per cent worried about them having too short battery life.

A similar proportion, 36 per cent, had concerns about not finding charging points close to their home.  

The survey outlines some of the challenges regarding electric vehicles and their adoption by the wider population ahead of November’s COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.

And it comes ahead of Ofgem’s launch of its ‘green, fair future’ campaign next week, when it will announce new investments to increase electric vehicle charging points.

Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem’s chief executive, said: ‘As more consumers make the switch to electric vehicles in the next five years, Ofgem will be announcing millions of pounds of investment to create a more flexible energy system to support the electrification of vehicles, renewable generation and low carbon forms of heat.

‘Securing the investment is only half of the answer. Climate change can only be tackled if consumers are engaged in the process. For this to happen the transition to a low carbon economy needs to be fair, inclusive and affordable.

‘Energy regulators have a key role to play in delivering this transition and we will be seeking to work with regulators across the world in the run up to the COP26 climate change talks to develop proposals that benefit consumers and the planet.’   

The Climate Change Committee, the UK’s official independent advisers on climate change, previously estimated that around 18million battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will be on the road by 2030.

Last year, Boris Johnson outlined his plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030.

The Climate Change Committee, the UK's official advisers on climate change, estimated that around 18m battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will be on the road by 2030

The Climate Change Committee, the UK’s official advisers on climate change, estimated that around 18m battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will be on the road by 2030

UK’s charging postcode lottery needs to be fixed, says NGO 

A new report on the UK’s existing and future charging infrastructure says there is currently a postcode lottery of devices that needs to be resolved.

The new study by non-government green campaigning organisation Transport & Environment says some areas have ample infrastructure while other are a ‘charging desert’. 

London has the most extensive network.

T&E says that areas such as Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Wandsworth already have a ‘sufficient number’ of devices to meet the charging needs from the electric cars projected to be on the road in 2025. 

However, the east and south-west of England have only 18 per cent of the chargers estimated to be needed by 2025.

 The worst performing local authority areas – Castle Point, Forest of Dean, Stockport, Swindon, Brentwood and Fenland – have less than 5 per cent of the charging needed in 2025.

Greg Archer, T&E’s UK director, said: ‘The current network is adequate in most places, but we must level up access to public charging throughout the UK and end the postcode lottery. 

‘Local authorities should be required to provide a right to charge for residents and visitors. It’s up to the government to give the funding and support needed to make this happen.’

T&E’s research suggests that if the UK’s charging infrastructure continues to grow at the current rate of around 800 new devices per month, there will be a sufficient network by 2025. But after 2025, the rate of installations will need to nearly double as the number of electric cars grows quickly and more drivers without off-street parking begin to use them.

Workplaces and car parks should be equipped with a steadily increasing number of charge points so cars can be charged wherever they are driven, T&E said.   

Plug-in hybrid models that can be driven a ‘significant distance’ in electric-only mode will be allowed to remain in showrooms until 2035 before also being outlawed.

The Government is yet to outline what it determines as a ‘significant distance’, though experts believe it will be a minimum of 50 miles. 

RAC data insight spokesman Rod Dennis said Ofgem’s research showed that a steadily increasing proportion of drivers were looking to make the switch to electric cars.

He added: ‘While concerns remain over the cost of EVs, prices are coming down and in fact several manufacturers reduced the list price of some of their electric models immediately after the Government announced that the Plug-in Car Grant was being cut. 

‘There are also different ways for drivers to make the switch affordably, such as leasing which can be a cost-effective way of getting into an electric car without the worries associated with ownership.

‘Aside from helping reduce the impact conventional cars have on air pollution and the environment, a healthy market for new electric cars will also have another major benefit – it will mean more EVs make their way onto the second-hand market, improving affordability of zero-emission models for everyone.’

Dan Hutson, head of motor insurance, comparethemarket.com, said it was ‘encouraging’ that Ofgem was planning investment to support the electrification of vehicles.

‘Further improvements in charging technology and increasing the availability of charging points will be needed to reassure motorists about electric vehicles ahead of the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales,’ he added.

Justina Miltienyte, policy expert at Uswitch.com, said more work remained to be done also to convince people that adopting environmentally friendly technologies, such as electric cars, was a ‘cost efficient change’.

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