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Government subsidies required to boost EV take-up

Date: 20 April 2018   |   Author: Rachel Boagey

New research commissioned by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has found that 75% of drivers feel extra government subsidies would make electric vehicles (EVs) more accessible.

According to the research, 82% of drivers feel they don't know enough about electric vehicles to wave goodbye to their petrol or diesel car. 

In addition, two thirds (66%) said they wouldn't know where to find a charging point and nearly a third (82%) say they will never change to electric because they don't know enough to switch over from petrol- or diesel-powered vehicles.

The IMI says these findings should be troubling news for the government, which has set itself a target of 2040 for a complete ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles.  

On the results of its findings, the IMI has said it believes the government needs to do more to educate car buyers on the benefits of switching from petrol and diesel to low-emission vehicles.   

Steve Nash, chief executive of the IMI, said, "Range anxiety is one of the main reasons drivers are being put off making the switch. Yet the IMI found that people's weekly mileage is 60-100 miles, which means that most drivers could actually make the switch to an ultra-low-emission vehicle and would only need to charge their car once a week."

Nash told BusinessCar, "These drivers currently feel they don't know enough about electric vehicles and they also feel the charging infrastructure isn't sustainable enough. The government must raise awareness of the benefits of owning ultra-low-emission vehicles, including the financial subsidies available to the vehicle owner when making the switch."

The IMI research also identified a lack of knowledge about the expertise and training required to service and maintain electric vehicles. The automotive body found that nine out of ten drivers were not aware of the current training and qualifications necessary for technicians to work on an electrified vehicle. 

With no minimum training benchmark currently in place for technicians, and car technology becoming increasingly complex and potentially more hazardous, the IMI told BusinessCar it has been working with government to implement a 'licence to practise' for vehicle technicians who are working on electric and hybrid vehicles.

"The government must focus on upskilling current workforces in order to guarantee the safety of technicians, as well as ensuring more businesses are fully equipped to handle more advanced technology," Nash said. 

"Setting a benchmark for technician training will also open up the market ready for ultra-low-emission vehicles by creating a more competitive sector. 

Perhaps more troubling news from the survey is that over half (59%) of respondents said they would be confident of performing basic maintenance tasks on an electric vehicle themselves, despite the inherent dangers of the high-voltage powertrain.

"With technology in vehicles moving at a record pace, it's more important than ever that those who are undertaking service, maintenance and repair are regularly trained and properly qualified to a recognised standard. 

"This guarantees their safety in working on and around high-voltage systems, and ensures that the owners of electrified vehicles can have confidence that their vehicles are in competent hands," he said.

The survey also found that Londoners  seem to be the most confident when it comes to doing repairs on an electric vehicle, despite them being most unsure about electric vehicle range., something which Nash maintains is of a great concern to the IMI.