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UK must shift out of second gear to realise its potential as an eMobility powerhouse - PwC eReadiness survey

04 Aug 2022

  • UK shows a high level of demand but more rapid progress  is constrained by lack of incentives and concerns over vehicle cost and charging availability
  • EVs seen as a status symbol in the UK - breaking out of the luxury bubble will be key to rapidly accelerating adoption of EVs
  • 83% of UK respondents would buy a used EV, second only to Spain at 87%

The UK is an emerging power in emobility with significant potential for growth, according to PwC’s eReadiness survey, but it needs to shift up a gear if it is to ever match Norway’s top-ranking performance

The survey shows that 55% of consumers are looking to purchase an electric vehicle (EV) within the next two years, with lower operating costs, environmental impact and convenience cited as major motives to buy. The survey took place across seven European countries including Norway, Italy and Germany.

But lingering perceptions still need to be addressed if the industry is to win consumers’ hearts, minds and cash. While UK respondents were the most aware of the lower maintenance costs associated with EVs, they also came out top in perceiving EVs as a status symbol, an attitude that unless addressed could put the brakes on growth rates.

The analysis also reveals the challenges facing the UK Government and manufacturers in their bid to accelerate adoption and reduce dependency on petrol/diesel vehicles as part of the wider transition to zero tailpipe emissions. Consumers are still being put off by higher up front purchase costs, for example, a factor that will only be exacerbated by the current cost of living crisis. 

While the government and the private sector continue to invest heavily in charging infrastructure, reductions in EV purchase incentives leading to the grant scheme closing in June 2022, could stall wider scale adoption. The report reveals that purchase incentive packages and extensive charging options, including wide penetration of public fast charging points, currently play a significant role in securing Norway’s top ranking eReadiness performance.

Mark Couttie, PwC Consulting Automotive Leader, said:

“There is huge potential for growth across the UK EV market but challenges around perception, cost and charging continue to linger. 

“Manufacturers and Government need to work together to smash the perception that EVs are the preserve of the affluent middle class. The private sector, for example, could go further in developing mass appeal consumer offers that don’t require such a large initial cash outlay. 

“Assumptions around needing to have off-street parking also play into this ‘middle class’ view and it’s crucial that infrastructure development, led by Government, utilities and private sector players, is firmly focused on the needs of the charging masses of the future.”

Other findings include: 

  • In the UK the ability to charge at home was identified as a major blocker, as around 7m households do not have the space to park or charge off-street. This highlights the importance of a range of reliable, accessible and affordable public charging solutions to meet the needs of all consumer segments. 

  • Charging times, price and convenience stand out as concerns amongst UK consumers, presenting an opportunity for manufacturers in terms of product design and better communication of the options. Government and private sector also have a unique opportunity to provide charging infrastructure that fits around drivers’ behaviour - whether at home, at work, or on the move. 

  • Satisfaction with the customer buying experience is declining in the UK. While word of mouth is driving people’s interest in EV options - 43% said their buying decisions were influenced by recommendations from family and friends - people need test drives and in-person dealerships to clinch the deal. There is also limited consumer trust in making a purchase of this size online.

  • 80% of people are interested in buying a used EV. PwC’s Leading the Charge research revealed the potential for fleet electrification to feed the used car market with more affordable options as they renew fleets every two to four years. 

Cara Haffey, PwC Automotive leader, commented 

“Despite continuing investment in electric vehicles by manufacturers and the launch of new and diverse ranges of battery and hybrid products, consumers are still being constrained by concerns around cost, a lack of choice and performance.  

“Understanding the trends that are both driving and holding back demand in the UK - and in comparison to other Western European markets - will certainly help manufacturers shape their strategies more effectively and grow market share as they view an increasingly electrified future within a highly competitive environment.”

Matt Alabaster, PwC Strategy partner, commented on the implications for charging infrastructure:

“The private sector is stepping up to the challenge of providing the charging infrastructure that the UK needs. From ultra-rapid chargers in motorway service areas, to chargers that will top us up while we shop or eat, the UK’s charging infrastructure is growing faster than ever. Over 800 public chargers are being added every month, and this rate is set to increase further as big ticket investors start to fund major national roll-outs.

“We forecast that an average of 1,100 public chargers will be installed every month in 2023, rising to over 2,200 every month by the end of the decade. The segments we need even more progress on are solutions focused on commercial fleet operators, and affordable on-street parking in residential areas.”

 

Ends

Notes:

The 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 analysis can be found via this link.  The survey of 4600 people across the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Norway and Switzerland included 740 UK consumers.

 

 

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