First of its kind study reveals consumer attitudes towards electric vehicles

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The world’s first mainstream consumer trials of electric vehicles has revealed the results of how the public perceive electric vehicles and what it will take for mass adoption of the technology.

Conducted by TRL, a global research and solutions center for transportation and mobility, the groundbreaking Consumers, Vehicles and Energy Integration (CVEI) project assessed in-depth data from surveys of mainstream consumer attitudes to reveal a comprehensive picture of what the tipping point will be for mass EV uptake.

The CVEI project also provided 447 consumers with a real-world experience of BEV and PHEV ownership, which is the largest trial of its kind.

“The ‘Consumer Uptake Trial’ examined the barriers and motivators which influence mainstream consumer adoption of BEVs and PHEVs. We provided consumers with direct back-to-back experience of using a pure electric (BEV), a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and an equivalent conventional petrol engine car. By providing this real-world experience, we were able to gather more representative views of mainstream consumers about the extent to which electric vehicles serve their needs,” said Dr George Beard, TRL’s head of ULEV Consumer Research, and technical lead for the CVEI trials.

Some of the key findings of the study revealed that 50% of mainstream consumers indicated they would likely choose a PHEV as a main or second household car, or a BEV as a second car, in the next five years.

Also, 50% of mainstream consumers would consider a BEV as a main car if its range increased to 200 miles; increasing to 90% of mainstream consumers if the range was 300 miles.

Charging times are also an obstacle for current consumers, however the study revealed consumer adoption of BEVs would be encouraged through provision of rapid charging infrastructure every 20 miles on motorways and A-roads.

Dr Neale Kinnear, head of Behavioural Science at TRL, commented: “The need for cleaner, more efficient modes of travel is increasingly required to meet objectives such as the Road to Zero. However, the pace of this change will ultimately be dictated by consumer demand.

“With this ground-breaking CVEI project, TRL and its partners are providing vital evidence proving the mass market is willing to make the switch to electric vehicles, within particular parameters. The detailed findings will help inform UK and European policy and industry, including what is required by the energy sector to enable it to successfully contend with the resultant significant increase in electricity demand.”

With the aim of the trial to inform and help governments, OEMs, energy companies and technology partners shape the future of electric vehicle ownership and charging, it will no doubt provide a clearer picture of what is required to propel EVs into the mainstream sooner.

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