The pressure to switch to more environmentally friendly cars will mount in the months ahead. Birmingham and Bath have both introduced Clean Air Zones (CAZs) that will see fines/charges for the worst polluting cars entering the zones. Birmingham will see cars charged £8 a day every day of the year, and the local council recognises that around 25% of the city's cars will be impacted. However, consumer scepticism on electric vehicles (EVs) remains; so says Ford of Britain's MD Lisa Brankin.
In an interview with the BBC, Ms Brankin said many customers were sceptical about buying an electric vehicle, noting that from their own research, just over 10% of customers were actively considering a battery electric vehicle as their next purchase.
The long-established challenges remain. People are still concerned about a number of things - range, the charging infrastructure, the lack of information available to customers and obviously the price as well.
Cost is a factor; only 13 electric car models on sale in the UK at the moment cost less than £30,000, according to a Public Accounts Committee report. The up-front costs are perhaps exacerbated by continuing uncertainty about future values as technology and battery life evolve. At the same time, the charging network needs to develop, as does charging speed. All of this is set against the backdrop of Covid-19 and the uncertainty that it has created for businesses and individuals, financially and in terms of commuting/transport needs.
Sales of EVs are rising because these are the cars that OEMs are now making, but persuading motorists to switch to electric vehicles by 2030 remains a challenge.
Ms Brankin is amongst many who have called on the Government to introduce a comprehensive plan" to support a switch to electric vehicles "that involves all stakeholders and not just car manufacturers."
The government has said it is investing £2.8bn to help the car industry and drivers switch to electric, and the added EV costs will fall as production grows around the world. However, with competition on all fronts for financial support from the government, whether more will be forthcoming is uncertain. Even then, money alone is not the only cause of consumer scepticism.
Jon Slater, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer