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12m drivers considering an electric car as their next purchase according to the latest Britain Under the Bonnet report

20 May 2019


Two in five drivers (39%) are considering an electric vehicle as their next purchase, an increase of 7.5m drivers in the past two years, according to the new Britain Under the Bonnet report from Close Brothers Motor Finance. While sales figures remain in the low thousands each month , data from dealers, drivers, and online trends suggest a surge in interest in the last two years.

The research revealed that two in five drivers (39%) would consider buying an electric vehicle as their next purchase, almost three times the figure just two years previously (15%). This equates to an increase of 7.5 million drivers who are now considering taking the leap from fossil fuel to electric. Similarly, online trends suggest that the number of searches for electric vehicles doubled in the last two years. 

Dealers too say they have noticed the shift. One in five dealers saw an uplift in the number of customers who expressed an interest in electric vehicles. In preparation, one in eight had sourced more alternative fuel vehicles for their showroom on the assumption that demand would increase. Consequently, one in seven dealers saw an increase in AFV sales last year.

The research also saw a distinct drop in concerns about cost, range, and charging time in comparison to last year. Almost half as many drivers were concerned about the initial outlay of an electric vehicle (24% in 2019, compared with 47% the year before), and half as many were worried about the time it takes to charge them (17% in 2019, down from 36%). Similarly, the proportion of drivers concerned about driving range had fallen from 43% last year to 24% now. 

Seán Kemple, Director of Sales at Close Brothers commented: “2019 may be remembered as the year when electric vehicles went mainstream. While sales are still relatively low in real terms, the speed of growth is accelerating, and it looks like we’re months, not years, from the tipping point. Consumers are becoming more aware of the benefits of AFVs or an electric vehicle – from environmental protection to lower costs of running a car after the initial outlay – and manufacturers are responding to this demand. The overwhelming number of EVs and AFVs on display at the Geneva Motor Show is evidence of this. 

“Education is needed to help customers overcome their concerns about range, charging time and costs, and this sits with the government and manufacturers alike. The government should also steer its focus towards developing the infrastructure needed to meet the needs of rising demand, from charging points outside of the big cities to solutions for customers with on-street parking.

“Clearly the next couple of years present an opportunity to win the trust of an unsure market. As confusion around fuel types increases, so too will customers’ reliance on trustworthy advice, and this is where the expertise of the dealer comes into play. There is plenty to suggest that dealers with a good understanding of the marketplace and the right stock on their forecourt can expect to do well in these uncertain times.”

Britain Under the Bonnet methodology 
The figures in this report are based on Close Brothers Motor Finance’s own data, a telephone survey of over 200 UK car dealers undertaken between November and December 2018, and on a consumer survey of over 2,000 UK drivers, weighted to be nationally representative. The survey was conducted in November 2018 by Censuswide. All statistics in the report, unless stated otherwise, are taken from the aforementioned sources.
Methodology for 12m drivers figure: There are 31.6 million cars licensed for use of the roads in Great Britain, according to the Department for Transport. 39% are considering an electric vehicle as their next purchase, equating to 12m drivers. This is a rise of 24% in the past two years, equating to around 7.5m drivers. 

For more information or to request a copy of the report, please click here.

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