UK public confused by petrol car phase out and EV costs

13th July 2023


The majority of UK adults think that the phase out of petrol-fuelled cars is due to happen sooner than is actually the case, new polling has uncovered.

The survey of more than 1,500 adults found that 74% believe the phase out will happen before the 2035 date set by government, with 45% thinking it will happen by 2030.

Almost half of respondents also said that owning an electric vehicle (EV) is more expensive than a petrol car, when the reality is that many are cheaper to own and operate.

For example, a four-year old second-hand Nissan Leaf would, over the remaining 10 years of its life, saves £8,000 in total ownership costs when compared to a Nissan Juke petrol equivalent, according to the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), which commissioned the polling.

Meanwhile, findings from the International Council on Clean Transportation show that the carbon savings from plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars are around three to five times lower in the real world than previously assumed.

“EVs are often much cheaper to fuel and own,” said Colin Walker, head of transport at ECIU. “Charging at home, available to the majority of UK households, makes an EV many times cheaper to fuel.

“Only a complete reliance on expensive, rapid chargers – a highly unrealistic scenario – would render an EV more expensive to fuel than a petrol vehicle.”

The polling also found that 52% of UK adults know a friend or family member with an EV, of which 74% said that person had a positive experience of it.

This comes after latest industry sales figures showed growing demand for EVs, with almost one in five new cars sold in June being a battery electric vehicle, up 40% year on year.

Previous ECIU analysis has found that slowing down the sale of new EVs would be detrimental to the second-hand market, with drivers missing out on £9bn of savings.

Currently, 80% of UK-made cars are exported, of which 71% go to three large markets – the EU, China and 16 US states – that are introducing electric vehicle targets that will heavily restrict the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles.

If the UK fails to respond to these changes in demand and develop its electric vehicle manufacturing base, analysis by the ECIU suggests that the UK could lose £13.3bn of car exports in 2030 alone – a collapse in export revenue of nearly 60%, putting hundreds of thousands of British jobs at risk.

Walker added: “The risk of trying to slow the transition down is that the cheaper costs of driving an EV will remain out of reach to more people for longer – particularly for those reliant on the second-hand market. A new EV today is a cheap-to-run second-hand EV in three years’ time.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

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