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Over Half of Younger Drivers Likely to Switch to Electric by 2030

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The ban on new petrol and diesel car sales will be here much sooner than you think. With the 2030 deadline in place, the race is on for motorists to seriously think about what the future of driving looks like for them. 

With more than half of motorists between 16 to 49 years likely to switch to all-electric vehicles within the next decade, the shape of UK roads is set to change forever. 

While the incentives are there to make the switch, is there currently enough infrastructure in place? What’s more, are there other barriers to consider, such as range, financial support and more? Let’s take a look:

The phasing out of fossil fuels

When Boris Johnson first announced in 2017 the idea of banning all new petrol and diesel car sales in the UK, with a preliminary date of 2040, it rocked the motoring industry. The reason? The ban would bring a complete end to the sales of new petrol and diesel-powered vehicles, including new cars, vans, trucks, and other combustion-powered cars. 

But then something changed. The date of the ban was reset to 2030, with the extra caveat that hybrids would also find themselves outlawed by 2035. 

Today, the UK is pushing for greater sustainability. With the PM’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution helming the push, the UK will likely emerge as a green world leader in the decades to come. 

One of the most significant driving forces of the whole plan is for the country to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. With the ONS reporting from 2019, “transport was responsible for 27% of total UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” it makes sense that our fuel consumption has become such a point of concern. 

In the long term, fossil fuels are no longer sustainable. With fuel prices soaring through the roof, change is imminent. 

Time to make the switch?

Now more than ever, we are aware of how much our actions impact the environment. From David Attenborough highlighting the state of the world’s oceans and wildlife to the more recent COP26 UN Climate Conference, it’s evident that we all need to address our lifestyles. But what does that look like for motorists?

Data collected by the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) between 22 September and 3 October 2021 concluded that 44% of all petrol, diesel, and hybrid drivers would likely or very likely switch to an all-electric vehicle within the next ten years. More than 4 out of 10 will probably switch to electric (41%) by 2026. 

Looking at the survey results provided by the 16 to 29-year-old group, 52% said they were very likely to make the switch from conventional to electric within the next decade, with 54% of 30 to 49-year-olds planning to do the same. 

Fewer drivers want to make the switch sooner

While the ONS survey concluded that more than half of motorists between the ages of 16 to 49 years would be willing to make the switch to all-electric by the time the 2030 ban is in full swing, less than a quarter (24%) of those were looking to buy a new vehicle within the next year. Within that number, only 8% intended to buy an all-electric car, and 16% would opt for a plug-in hybrid. 

Perhaps due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19 or how consumers are more aware of their finances, the survey results suggest that there is no rush for motorists to make the switch immediately. Plus, for most, 2030 still feels like a long way away, especially when you consider the average lifespan of a car!

But cost does still remain a barrier, according to the ONS. Of all the conventional vehicle owners who responded to the survey, 70% said cost was the main factor preventing them from making the switch within the next decade. 

However, upgrading your vehicle doesn’t have to break the bank. With numerous car financing options available from PCP to leasing and more, you can have the latest model or a quality secondhand electric vehicle (EV) on your drive within hours. The biggest incentive? You get more choices, affordable monthly repayment options and a chance to go green ahead of the pack. 

Plug-in Hybrid trend within higher-income households

Unsurprisingly, plug-in ownership is far higher in UK local authority areas where households have more disposable income. 

According to the ONS, Kensington and Chelsea have the highest annual gross disposable household income per head (£85,376) than any other London borough. The exception? The City of London has the ‘second-highest rate of licensed plug-in vehicles per 100 households (2.4) in the UK.’

Despite plug-in ownership being more common throughout London, cost still remains a hurdle for many living within the capital. With 83% of the city’s motorists not planning to switch to an electric vehicle within the next decade, stating cost was the main reason, and it’s no wonder – the capital has the highest plug-in prices in the whole of Great Britain. 

But what is the true cost of switching to electric? 

While the upfront costs still remain far higher (roughly £10k difference according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)) than your average combustible-fueled vehicle, the overall running costs of a battery electric vehicle (BEV) provide considerable lifetime savings when compared to a fossil fuel motor. 

Comparatively, ‘the cost of fuelling 100 miles in the top-selling electric car (£3.94) was less than half (41.7%) of the cost to fuel 100 miles in the top-selling petrol car (£9.45)’ according to data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). 

Since BEIS collected that date in 2020, unleaded petrol prices have skyrocketed from £1.14 per litre to an average of £1.46 – demonstrating the further cost division between running an electric vs fossil fuel motor. 

Then there is the colossal developments in battery life and costs to consider. While range anxiety has plagued the minds of numerous motorists in recent years, the cost of electric batteries is forecast to halve between now and 2030. 

Combined with the best selling EVs reaching an average mileage range of 412 miles (Tesla S), is the electric market about to become more affordable for the average UK driver? 

What’s more, according to the independent Climate Change Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget, by 2030, the average upfront cost of a BEV will be similar to that of a conventionally powered car. With lower running and lifetime costs, BEVs are projected to be 13% cheaper than their fossil-fuelled counterparts by the time the ban begins. 

Whereas plug-in hybrids are likely to be more expensive than both BEVs and conventionally powered vehicles due to liquid fuel costs on top of electricity and general maintenance costs. 

Spotlight on range anxiety

One of the most significant barriers that motorists face when considering switching to a BEV is the lack of charging infrastructure in place throughout the UK. When it comes to “range anxiety,” the struggle is clearly a bruising point for most drivers. 

According to research carried out by the ONS’ Opinions and Lifestyle Survey between 22 September and 3 October 2021, over half (52%) of the respondents claimed they were not likely to switch to electric within the next decade due to the apparent lack of infrastructure – most notably, the limited charging devices available. 

With the government pledging a further £70 million towards upgrading the EV infrastructure currently in place throughout the country, it’s clear that there is still a lot of work to do to keep up with the growing demand. Following on from this announcement made by the PM in February 2021, the CCC has estimated that at least 325,000 public charging points will be needed to support the projected 23.2 million electric cars that will be on UK roads by 2032. 

But more than that, drivers want to feel secure that they have access to charging points outside their homes. With millions of Britons without access to an at-home charging point, provision needs to be made for those with on-road parking facilities and beyond. 

With only 25,918 public charging points available in the UK by 1 October 2021, and the latest data from the ONS showing 460,090 plug-in cars, we are far from the projected 2030 numbers. 

But it is charging times that are a significant offputting factor for many. With only 1 in five (19%) of the public charging points currently available in the UK providing rapid charge, which can charge an EV to 80% in as little as 20 minutes, there needs to be a push for local authorities outside the capital to instal better EV infrastructure. 

What are your thoughts about making the switch to electric by 2030? Are you in? Or are there some factors such as cost and infrastructure putting you off? With the demand for plug-ins on the rise, arguably, there’s never been a better time to make the switch.