For many years the main barrier to consumer acceptance of electric vehicles has been “range anxiety”. Drivers have often wildly overestimated the length of their journeys, and underestimated the ability of electric vehicles to meet that need.
Now, though, the advances in electric vehicle technology – especially in sheer battery power – are gradually eroding that consumer resistance: electric cars are now within a matter of a few miles of meeting the range demands of more than one in three motorists – 300 miles or so.
Research by DrivingElectric.com, the independent consumer advice website for electric vehicles, shows that some 37 per cent of motorists cite a distance of up to 300 miles as the range that would entice them to buy a pure electric vehicle (that is, not a hybrid which also has a traditional petrol engine).
So now cars such as the long-range Hyundai Kona Electric – which can cover 292 miles – fall just eight miles short of the most common figure for consumers’ range ambitions.
Improvements in technology are arriving faster than many motorists realise, which means many don’t know their demands for range have already been met.
DrivingElectric.com asked more than 250 drivers, expressing an interest in buying an all-electric car, what range would tempt them to take the plunge. The surprise finding was that 37 per cent of them no longer expect the equivalent range of an internal combustion engine on a tank of petrol or diesel. Instead, they cite ranges between 50 and 300 miles on a single electric charge, which means the threshold for range anxiety has already been met by some mainstream electric vehicles.
Almost one in 10 would-be EV adopters could already be tempted by other models, because they only demand a range of up to 150 miles – which means a car such as the Volkswagen e-Golf now falls short by only six miles.
Another 28 per cent of drivers demanded up to 400 miles on a single charge, a figure widely expected to be reached by new models being developed. The remaining 35 per cent of motorists will be waiting much longer for their range expectations of 400-1,000 miles to be met – but one day?
Vicky Parrott, associate editor of DrivingElectric.com, said: “With such focus on range anxiety, many have missed the technological improvements we’re seeing. We were surprised to find many drivers’ expectations were so close to what is already available to them.
“However, the matching of expectation and reality is fantastic news for those drivers who have been waiting for the moment these cars meet their needs on range.”
DrivingElectric.com add that the total average mileage covered by most drivers in a typical week, including travel for social, leisure, shopping, school runs and commuting, falls well within the published ranges of the latest generation of electric cars.
Ms Parrott said: “When you look at the fact that most people would be able to cover most of their weekly miles on a single charge, and combine it with the range they have in mind that would tempt them to take the plunge and buy an EV, it looks like very good news for this market.
Even so, electric cars only account for a tiny proportion of new cars sales in Britain – around 14,000 out of a total of about 2.4 million units are pure battery-powered models, with cars such as the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, BMW i3 and Jaguar iPace popularising this alternative power source.
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