Britons think electric cars beat petrol in several areas - except convenience

Christien PhebyContent Manager
May 21, 2021, 12:08 PM UTC

When it comes to charging an electric car vs refuelling a petrol car, 14% think it’s better; 13% think it’s the same, and 64% think it’s worse

The UK recently replaced France as Europe’s second-largest electric car market. But how do Britons feel about these vehicles compared to those that run on petrol?

Data from YouGov Direct indicates that the general public feel that electric cars outperform petrol cars in a number of key areas – except when it comes to convenience.

For all the positivity around the features of electric cars, a major sticking point for Britons when it comes to EVs is the hassle associated with charging a car compared to filling it up with petrol. A comfortable majority of the public thinks battery-powered vehicles are more inconvenient to run than petrol cars (64%), while just 14% think petrol cars are worse in this area.

The British public is more likely to say they are superior in every other area we asked about. In terms of acceleration, three in five believe they perform the same or better (59%), while just a fifth say they are worse (19%). When it comes to handling, more than three in five (62%) say electric cars handle at similar or superior levels, with just 12% saying they are inferior.

This extends to aesthetics: in terms of exterior design, three-quarters say they look the same or better (76%); when asked about interior design, four in five (80%) think they’re superior, while just 7% think they look inferior.

Britons are also more likely to think that electric cars represent a better investment on a day-to-day basis than petrol cars. Half of the public think electric cars cost less to run than petrol cars (51%) – although a fifth (18%) think they cost about the same and 16% say they cost more.

But when you ask drivers about the barriers to buying an electric car, the major problems do tend to revolve around convenience and charging. YouGov Profiles shows that, while the top challenge for Britons with a driving license is the initial cost (26%), half of the top ten reasons to avoid buying an electric car all have to do with charging the battery.

A quarter think there aren’t enough charging stations (24%), while a fifth think charging takes too long or is too much hassle (21%). Nearly as many (17%) say that the battery doesn’t last long enough or that the cost of charging at home presents a problem (16%).

“Range anxiety” – the fear that you’ll run out of charge if you get too far from a station – is a well-documented concern among EV owners, and it’s one that has cut through to the wider public. It’s a problem the government has recognised through initiatives such as the electric vehicle homecharge scheme, which provides a 75% contribution to the cost of a home charging point and its installation for people with off-street parking and a qualifying vehicle.

As the UK automotive market becomes increasingly electric, it’s a problem automakers may wish to keep in mind – by heightening awareness of incentives and subsidies, offering help with home-charging installation (or even providing it as part of the purchase cost as some brands do), or otherwise making it easier for British drivers to power their electric cars.  

Methodology
YouGov polled 1500 British adults online on 20 May 2021 between 17:53 and 18:28 BST. The survey was carried out through YouGov Direct. Data is weighted by age, gender, education level, region, and social grade. Results are nationally representative of adults in Great Britain. The margin of error is 4.5% for the overall sampleLearn more about YouGov Direct.

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