UK Pilot of EV Trialers Show Most Won’t Buy Them

Just one-in-four or UK consumers chosen to take part in a car-use trial between EV and ICE powered vehicles would now buy an electric car.

That’s the findings of the global auto research facility, the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL). Its scientists oversaw the Consumers, Vehicles and Energy Integration (CVEI) project, claiming to be the world’s first mainstream consumer trials of EVs.

The study recruited 447 mainstream consumers in a trial lasting nine months. The results, drawn from a total 584,000 miles traveled aimed to produce the first comprehensive picture of the future of UK road transport in the electric powered era.

Consumers were each drive three test vehicles, the Volkswagen Golf in BEV, PHEV and ICE versions, four days apiece. Unfortunately for the EV lobby, interviewed after the test around three-quarters of the participants said they would not consider buying a BEV within the next five years.

The TRL report highlighted the usual concerns over cost of purchase, particularly since the UK government’s scrapping of PHEV grants, and the lack of range and infrastructure for BEVs especially in urban environments.

TRL’s Dr George Beard told the BBC: “Key barriers to adoption of electric vehicles include the electric range,” he said. “The range needs to be long enough to give consumers confidence that the vehicle can meet their needs. The upfront purchase cost, and the availability of charging infrastructure so they can charge where and when they need, were also factors.”

The UK government is facing an uphill struggle to meet its legally binding target of reducing 80% of CO2 by 2050 compared to those of 1990 especially with more consumers turning to gasoline following urban air pollution concerns over diesel powertrains which, nonetheless, remain the lowest emitters of climate change gases.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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