Vauxhall aims to help local authorities provide on-street charging with information and funding

More than a quarter of British drivers say they will never buy an electric car — but it's a mixed picture

Just like a battery, the survey is both positive and negative…

More than a quarter of British drivers say they will never buy an electric car, according to a new survey.

Bridgestone tyres polled 2,000 drivers nationwide and found that the number of EV naysayers has grown by five percentage points in the past two years, from 22 to 27 per cent.

Falling electric sales

Those two years have seen a dramatic turnaround in electric car sales, which went from a soaring high in the immediate months following the Covid-19 pandemic to softening this year and last in the face of consumer concerns.

In other markets around the world, electric car sales have been in retreat since the end of 2023. In the UK, they’re still increasing but the rate of sales acceleration has slowed and all of the growth now is being driven by fleet and company car sales — private buyers are staying away, with sales of electric cars to private customers falling this year. 

It is that lack of public charging which is apparently holding buyers back the most. Some 64 per cent of respondents to the Bridgestone survey cited sparse charging opportunities as the factor that is most holding them back from buying an EV.

That concern is only just ahead of the up-front cost of new electric cars, a factor which 63 per cent of respondents said is a concern — despite electric car prices generally having plummeted over the past six months. Another 47 per cent said that they’re still worried about “range anxiety” when it comes to electric motoring.

Motorway charging queue

Not all negative

That’s the “thumbs down” side of the survey. There is a sharply-contrasting “thumbs-up” side, however, which saw 51 per cent of respondents say that they intend to purchase an electric car in the next five years. In 2023 the comparable number was just 41 per cent, which means while more people now are saying that they’ll never buy an EV, proportionally many more are saying that they will.

It’s a confusing picture, admits Bridgestone, one which probably sums up the confusing nature of the current car market and the legislative environment around electric cars.

Vauxhall aims to help local authorities provide on-street charging with information and funding

According to Bridgestone, the results of its survey are broadly in line with others, including a 2024 Which? report claiming that 68 per cent of EV drivers were not happy with the UK’s charging network. Meanwhile, a 2023 WhatCar survey revealed that 42 per cent of motorists would opt against an EV for cost reasons.

And according to recent Department for Transport data, a further 27 per cent of motorists believe that most public charging points have long queues.

One million electric cars on UK roads

Against that background, the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) has stated that the one-millionth electric car is already on the UK’s roads, and it’s expected to be joined by another 414,000 new electric registrations this year.

So, according to the Bridgestone survey — and the others — British motorists both love and hate, fear and embrace electric cars all at the same time.

Andrea Manenti, Bridgestone’s vice president for the “North Region”, which includes the UK, said that the survey results proved that there was more work to be done before the electric vehicle revolution could really begin to motor.

Ever-changing times

“We’re living in exciting and ever-changing times in the automotive world, of that there is no doubt. There’s a huge shift towards a more sustainable and efficient way of travel and it goes without saying that we’re fully committed to the adoption of electric vehicles.

“But we also recognise that there is still a lot of work required to change perceptions amongst motorists, which we can see through our results.

“It requires a joined-up, clear strategy that all automotive groups and businesses can align with, with relevant investment where necessary. At Bridgestone, we’re fully charged towards an era of electrification, as part of our mission to continue to provide social and customer value as a sustainable solutions company towards 2050.”

Bridgestone is hedging its tyre bets just a little, creating a new set of “Enliten” tyre technologies for the Turanza 6 range, which the company says can both improve the efficiency of a petrol or diesel-engined car, while doing the same for an electric model as well as being quieter so as not to disturb the silence of a battery-powered vehicle.

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