All costs being equal, consumers still prefer hybrid cars over electric

Christien PhebyContent Manager
June 24, 2021, 12:32 PM UTC

As governments across the globe introduce legislation to encourage consumers to buy battery-powered vehicles – and crucially, to eventually stop the sale of new petrol/diesel cars – the auto industry is looking at an increasingly electric future. What’s more, there’s evidence that consumers are embracing the idea: in Britain, for example, people think electric cars beat petrol cars in several key areas, with the notable exception of convenience. The most commonly-selected barrier was cost (selected by 26% of drivers).

Global YouGov data suggests that, even if you remove the extra costs of buying an electric car from the equation, they still aren’t consumers’ first choice. We asked people in 17 different markets if they would prefer an electric, hybrid, or petrol/diesel car if they were buying a new vehicle; the models were the same; and they were all the same price. In most countries and territories, hybrid vehicles were the first choice (except for Germany, where 40% opted for petrol/diesel cars, with hybrids the second choice).

Hong Kong is the only market where electric cars come close to matching hybrids in terms of overall preference: three in ten (30%) say they would opt for an electric car, all things being equal, while nearly a third (32%) say they would go for a hybrid. In many markets such as Spain (51% vs. 20%), Mexico (50% vs. 27%) and China (45% vs. 19%), the ratio of people who prefer hybrids to electrics is around 2:1.

This suggests that, while cost may be the top barrier overall, the day-to-day convenience of owning an electric car remains a major sticking point. While there are nine markets in our study where people are at least as likely to go for the electric car as they are to choose the petrol or diesel vehicle, there are still several markets where cars powered by fossil fuels win out. Add that to the fact that majority of consumers globally would opt for the hybrids, and both auto manufacturers and policy-makers may need to do more to increase the attractiveness of the fully electric car.

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