eReadiness - the UK has yet to get up to full speed

Despite continuing investment in electric vehicles (EVs) by manufacturers, consumers are still not switching at a rate the industry expects. Understanding the trends driving and also holding back demand - both in the UK and in comparison to other Western European markets - will help manufacturers shape their strategies towards greater commercial success.

Our eReadiness study from PwC Strategy& examines markets across much of Western Europe to provide valuable insights on the consumer, commercial and broader factors that are influencing the adoption of EVs.

The study involved more than 4,600 consumers in seven European markets: France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, covering battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs). For simplicity, we refer to these jointly as EVs, while acknowledging their major technical and regulatory differences.

More than half (55%) of consumers surveyed plan to buy an EV in the next two years - and 63% in the next five years.

They want to buy because of lower operating costs, environmental impact, and convenience. But they are held back by the upfront price tag and concerns about range and charging time.

Including private charging infrastructure could boost adoption - with 57% of consumers buying bundles with their EVs.

For the UK, there are several areas where it can improve its comparative ranking for eReadiness. It has a high level of demand but is limited by a lack of incentives. Looking at how other markets are addressing these issues could present a huge opportunity for manufacturers.

Five key findings

UK is an emerging e-mobility power

The report confirms the UK’s position as an emerging power in e-mobilty. Norway may still lead, but the UK’s strong potential for growth is reflected by private-sector investment in recent years - BP buying Chargemaster, EDF buying Pod Point, and EQT acquiring Instavolt.

Strong demand for EVs

Despite challenges in the UK market around incentives, infrastructure and charging, demand for EVs is strong. The UK ranks third in consumers’ likelihood to buy an EV.

In line with the report, a PwC weekly survey of 1000 UK consumers in July 2022 found 5% currently own an EV, and a further 31% plan to buy one in the next two years.

Broadening the appeal

There are some contrasting views among the UK’s EV consumers - they have the highest awareness of EVs’ lower maintenance costs, yet UK consumers are more likely than consumers in most other markets to see EVs as a status symbol.

And this presents a problem. If EVs continue to be seen as being exclusively for an affluent middle class, adoption rates will struggle to grow in the mass market.

Home-charging infrastructure is a blocker

The survey shows home-charging is a major blocker in the UK, highlighting the importance of on-street public charging and the opportunity to develop a charging infrastructure built around customers’ needs - price, speed and ease of use. 

It also implicitly underlines the value of fleet electrification as a way to develop rapid charging hubs (as we explored in our Fleets Ahead! report).

The end of government incentives could be an opportunity for the private sector

Although the government continues to invest heavily in charging infrastructure, it has cut crucial incentives to encourage EV purchases, with the Department of Transport closing the EV grant scheme for private consumers in June 2022. 

Upfront costs are a major disincentive, and this will be worsened by the current cost-of-living crisis. However, it could present an opportunity for the private sector to offer more incentives that reduce the consumers’ initial outlay. 

How we can help

Drawing on our industry expertise and experience, we can support manufacturers in EV strategy, roll-out, communications, and technology.

We can help local authorities with support on how to invest in charge point access.  And, when it comes to customer experience, we can deliver vital insight into what people want to experience and what interactions or behavioural change are needed.

Contact us

Cara Haffey

Cara Haffey

UK Manufacturing and Automotive lead, Private Business leader for PwC Northern Ireland, M&A Deals Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7809 551517

Matthew Alabaster

Matthew Alabaster

Energy, Utilities & Resources Deals Leader, Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7866 727124

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