Circle Insights

Understanding Differing Consumer Attitudes on the path to EV adoption

James Debenham

The market for Electric Vehicles is growing consistently – of that there can be no doubt. But market statistics only tell one part of the story.  While we are clearly on a path towards mass EV adoption there are still many different opinions about electrification – some see advantages, while others perceive disadvantages – and consumers will weigh up these views differently as they make their decision about whether to purchase an Electric Vehicle.

Our survey suggested that many consumers are thinking positively about Electric Vehicles.  42% of respondents said that it was likely that their next car would be an EV, with 64% of those suggesting this purchase would happen within the next 2 years.  But this level of engagement is not consistent across all consumer groups.  In order to bring more consumers on board it is necessary to understand more about the attitudes and concerns of certain groups in order to realise the potential within them.  Because it is when we overlay the survey results with Acorn (CACI’s powerful classification of UK consumers) that we see some fascinating results.

For instance, the survey identified that Affluent Achievers (the wealthiest household group) who perhaps would have been considered a core market for EV’s are only marginally more likely to say they will buy an EV as their next car (48%). This is because when we drill-down into this category we find that affluence is not the only issue – age plays a significant part too.  The older, affluent groups within this category (specifically the Group called Mature Money) are far less likely to say they will purchase an EV next (42%) than the slightly younger “Executive Wealth” (51%).

Ask why, and it appears that Mature Money still consider battery range a key obstacle, despite their being more likely to make shorter trips. Importantly, unlike other Acorn Categories, both Executive Wealth and Mature Money are not particularly concerned about the provision of public charging points – probably due to the likelihood of living in a detached house where they could place a private charging point. But it is definitively range anxiety that is most pressing for the older more affluent groups.

This is a prime example of how the market can accelerate the adoption of EV’s among these consumers, allaying their concerns about range and amplifying the convenience factor (and reassurance) of charging at home.  Furthermore, these consumers are financially savvy, the survey shows they recognise the long-term savings on cost-of-ownership that EVs bring so these factors need to be amplified with these groups to get them on board.

With EVs it’s clear that the car buyers of the future may not be the same as the car-buyers of the past.  Rising Prosperity (younger professionals, often living in metropolitan environments) show the greatest inclination to purchase an EV (12% above the average). Interestingly, these consumers have not previously shown much interest in car ownership, preferring instead to use other mobility solutions (e.g. public transport or taxis).

One factor that has been identified through CACI’s wider research is how the spread of Covid-19 has resulted in these consumers looking towards private mobility solutions in the attempt to avoid public transport. As a result, they seek the benefits of private vehicle ownership without compromising their concerns for the environment.

However, despite being engaged in the idea of owning an EV, they appear unwilling to commit as they are more likely to wait 2 years or more before purchasing an EV. Price-point is clearly a big issue for this group, with higher living costs and relatively low disposable income, they are more likely than any other Acorn Category to admit that price is their main barrier to entry. Moreover, this group are likely to be living in urban high-rise flats or terraced accommodation so may not have the luxury of private charging points. This is identified in the survey as they are most likely to suggest that a lack of public charge points as the main barrier. In all areas of life convenience is key for this Acorn Category, so while they may be less phased about issues to do with range, they are put off by the perceived inconveniences of lack of access to a charge point (private or public). As a result, the market needs to do more than just offer an affordable range of EV’s.  Investment in public charging infrastructure, ensuring it is accessible and convenient (encouraging further investment where development is still lagging) will be crucial for getting these groups on board.

The final Acorn Category we focus on here is Comfortable Communities – characterised mainly by middle-affluent households. If EV ownership is to hit the “mainstream”, then surely these are Groups where adoption needs to increase the most.  The survey indicates many variations in attitudes across this Category, although price is a common theme in their perceived disadvantages and barriers.  Particularly interesting is the observation that respondents coming from the Groups that are characterised by rural populations are still reluctant to view EVs as a viable mobility solution.

Only 36% say it is likely that their next car will be an EV and 67% specifically quote range as a disadvantage.  While these rural Groups do acknowledge the economic advantages of ownership and recognise the convenience of private charging, they also see a lack public charge points as a significant barrier to ownership.  Furthermore, it is within this Category you will find the highest likelihood of consumers stating that it is the lack of an established second-hand market for EVs that is putting them off.  Therefore, while there are undoubtedly challenges in attracting these consumers to EV usage in the short-to-medium-term, the long-term prognosis looks good, particularly once the second-hand market for EVs becomes more established.

These results of this survey are fascinating and show that public perceptions of EV ownership are driven by consumers’ age, lifestage, affluence and where in the country they live.  Government and industry initiatives to accelerate the rate of EV adoption need to be aware of the nuances and differences in consumer opinions and ensure that each concern is addressed appropriately as the industry looks to make the next big leap in EV adoption.

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions or want to learn more about our survey results.

Contact us now
James Debenham