Electrical driving reaches tipping point among car buyers

07 June 2022 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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Electrical driving has reached an important crossroads in developed economies, according to a new study. For first time more people want an electric car than a car with a combustion engine.

After decades of hype, perceptions are finally starting to shift regarding electronic vehicles (EVs). While for the longest times, consumers and the corporate lobby were hostile to the idea, studies increasingly show that drivers no-longer distinguish them as ‘different’ – 69% of one poll said they would expect to merely refer to ‘cars’ when speaking about electric vehicles in 10 years’ time – and this familiarity would finally drive a burst in sales that the technology has been waiting to see.

Now, a study from EY has backed up these assertions with sales data. According to the study, 40% of sales in the UK for 2021 involved EVs or hybrid vehicles, and estimating on the back of that, EY anticipates that number will rise to 49% by the end of the year. With the sale of new combustion engine vehicles due to come into force at the end of the decade, UK consumers may finally be on the brink of investing more in EVs than other cars, then.

How EV preferences have changed compared with previous surveys

The survey of 13,000 people in 18 countries shows that while this represents progress for the UK’s EV scene, however, it still lags behind the global average. EY found that around 52% of new car sales around the world are likely to involve EV or hybrids in 2022, while 20% of those will be ‘fully electric’ EVs, compared to 19% in the UK.

Randy Miller, EY Global Advanced Manufacturing & Mobility Leader said, “These findings truly mark a tipping point in the global car-buying market. For the first time since EY teams have been collecting this data, more than 50% of consumers across the globe indicate that they want an EV. The speed of this change has also been eye-opening, with a rise of 22 percentage points in just two years.”

Consumer appetite for EVs is expected to be highest in Italy, Spain and Norway in Europe, and China, South Korea and Singapore in Asia-Pacific. In contrast, however, sentiment in North America is expected to lag well behind the rest of the world, with below-average intention to buy EVs in the US, Canada and Mexico. The US in particular represents a stumbling block for the industry, where appetite for EVs of any kind has stalled at less than one-third of consumers.

Respondents in Italy, Spain, Norway are expected to drive the EV adoption in Europe

Part of this may be due to access to infrastructure. With the US struggling to update any of its key infrastructure due to the gridlock of its political system, even if consumers were more comfortable with EVs there – as concerns over costs and range dissipate – they would find it much harder to access charge points. In comparison, the UK has put a great deal of effort into designing and rolling out charge points for EVs – both to ensure they have the necessary infrastructure to be viable purchases, but also to implicitly advertise the ‘futuristic’ technology to consumers.

Miller contended that the appetite for EVs around the world may grow even faster now, though, in spite of such challenges. For example, as global gas price rise, they will continue to play their part in making internal combustion engines more expensive. Then, of course, there are the environmental concerns which still remain top of the list of motivators.

Concluding, Miller noted, “Consumers are becoming increasingly socially and environmentally conscious, and they’re willing to pay a premium to meet their environmental standards. It is now up to the industry to meet this demand. If manufacturers are not aware of this trend already, they’re behind the curve and they need to catch up fast.”