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  • Nov 3, 2021
  • 3 Minutes

How has the fuel crisis impacted people’s attitudes to electric cars?

If you were one of the unlucky motorists stuck queueing for fuel earlier this autumn, the chances are you were daydreaming about owning an electric car!

The recent fuel crisis wreaked havoc with the nation’s travel plans as motorists up and down the country topped up their tanks all at once – but savvy EV drivers were immune from all the chaos.

So we wanted to find out if the fuel crisis from late September and early October has persuaded more people to consider switching to an EV when they buy their next car.

And the results of our latest survey are very interesting…

What did our research show?

Our data insights team found that more than a third (35%)* of people surveyed are now more likely to buy an electric vehicle when they choose their next car as a result of the fuel crisis.

But not only are more than a third of people considering an EV for their next car, 32% of Brits say they are likely to buy a second-hand EV, too.

And this is backed up by our own data. In fact, the annual number of used electric cars being financed by our customers has surged 76% from 2020 to 2021, whilst petrol and diesel cars have fallen 23% and 37% respectively.

We also found that 30% of 18-24 year olds and 31% of 25-34 year olds admitted to panic buying fuel, compared to just 7% of 55-64 year olds and 3% of those aged 65-74 years old.

Regionally, admissions were most widespread in the South East (17%) whilst motorists in Scotland were most reluctant to panic buy (7%). With queues at forecourts stretching out at locations across the country, the recent fuel shortage has evidently convinced many that EVs are a more favourable option than first thought.

Range anxiety is becoming more of a myth, too, as the UK now has more EV charging stations than conventional fuel stations and cars such as the all-electric Volkswagen ID.3 Tour, with its 77kWh battery, can travel up to 340 miles on a single charge on the WLTP (combined) cycle.

What’s happening in the EV market at the moment?

The latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that September was the best month ever for new battery electric vehicle (BEV) uptake.

With a market share of 15.2%, more than 32,000 BEVs joined UK roads in the month, meaning September’s performance was only 5,000 short of the total number registered during the whole of 2019.

In his autumn Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak reiterated the government’s pledge of an extra £350 million to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains, as well as an extra £620 million for electric car grants and infrastructure as part of its Net Zero Strategy in the lead up to the COP26 climate summit.

What do the experts say?

Rebecca Whitmore, our Electric Vehicle Senior Product Owner, explained that electric cars are becoming more popular than ever before – helped by a rapidly improving EV infrastructure.

She said: “Electric vehicles have never been more popular than they are today and it’s clear from our research that the recent fuel crisis has only accelerated the surge in demand for electric cars and their new technologies.

“However, to meet the government’s decarbonisation targets, we need the take-up of EVs to be much higher. The average length of each car journey in the UK is fewer than 10 miles, so there’s still a lot of work to be done to alter the wider public’s perception of their driving habits, because an electric car would slot into the average person’s daily life more seamlessly than they probably imagine.

“As EV technology continues to improve and these vehicles continue to become more affordable and accessible, it won’t be too long before we have mainstream adoption in the UK.”

For more information on electric vehicles, visit our dedicated EV hub here.

*The data for this study was collected between 22nd October 2021 and 24th October 2021 and comprises responses from 2,000 British respondents.

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