More than 1.5 million UK households could switch to an electric car today

Electric car ownership is the right choice for at least 1.5 million UK households today, according to a new study by Britain’s leading consumer champion and New Car Buying platform, What Car?.

That’s the number of multi-car homes in the UK with a sweet-spot combination of off-street parking for home-charging and at least one vehicle that never does more than 100 miles in a single journey.

What Car? approached 2310 current electric vehicle owners and a further 23,500 non-EV owners to understand how they used their cars on an everyday basis.

This research found that 17% of multi-car households have at least one vehicle that never makes a journey of more than 100 miles. Overlaying these numbers with the percentage that has a driveway for home-charging (88%), What Car? calculated that 1.56m households – of the 27m in the UK – could convert to a pure electric vehicle without any compromises today. This figure is set to increase as charging infrastructure and electric vehicle range increases in future years.

“Most drivers are aware of the drive towards electrification, but are uncertain whether the current cars and infrastructure can meet their needs: the evidence here shows that a significant proportion of households could make the switch without any compromise, and start enjoying the benefits of EVs – including travelling with zero emissions in near-silence, enjoying significant cost-savings through the year, and the potential for being free from congestion or clean air zone charges,” said Jim Holder, editorial director at What Car?

To further support the arguments for purchasing an electric car, a surprising two-thirds of households that already have one, as well as a traditional petrol or diesel vehicle, say they now use the EV as their main vehicle.

2019 has been labelled the year of the electric vehicle, with no fewer than 19 different pure battery powered cars hitting the showrooms. The latest is the Oxford-built all-electric Mini Electric, which launches this week. It is being revealed just months after What Car? awarded its coveted Car of the Year accolade to the all-electric Kia e-Niro – the first time that an electric car has won the award.

Electric car range varies according to battery size, but What Car?’s Real Range testing has measured 18 EVs with ranges from 57 miles to 259 miles. All but three of the 15 cars tested have a Real Range in excess of 100 miles.

Prices for new EVs with a range exceeding 100 miles start from around £18,000 when purchased with a separate battery lease, or £24,500 with the battery included. Most electric vehicles are leased, with typical monthly payments around £300, depending on the size of your deposit, according to What Car? Target Price Finance data.

Sales of new electric cars hit a total of 9489 for 2019 at the end of May – up more 60% year-on-year but still less than 1% of the total market – bringing the total number of electric cars on UK roads to around 70,000. New models are being launched with increasing frequency, which suggests that exponential growth will continue, although What Car?’s research also highlighted that the majority of motorists’ perception of electric car ownership still lags a long way behind the reality.

“While it is clear that there is more work to be done to make electric cars even more affordable, and to increase charging and range capabilities so that even more households can own them compromise-free, it is also evident that the manufacturers and infrastructure providers are further ahead in providing answers to consumers’ questions than is widely recognised,” said Holder.

What Car? surveyed 25,000 visitors to its website from 14-28 June. The research was conducted independently by What Car? and supported by Mini.

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