Error parsing XSLT file: \xslt\FacebookOpenGraph.xslt Mark Sinclair's blog: 17 February 2011 - Drivers warm to electric cars
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Mark Sinclair's blog: 17 February 2011 - Drivers warm to electric cars

Date: 17 February 2011

Mark Sinclair is boss of leasing firm Alphabet

There was some modestly encouraging news for supporters of electric cars in a survey that came out last week.

Ninety out of 5000 drivers said they would 'definitely' buy an electric vehicle between now and 2014. Admittedly it was only 1.8% of the sample but it indicates that EVs are beginning to feature in people's car-buying plans.

That trend will be important for fleets, because the market is looking to private owners to take the lead in building sustainable demand for EVs. Until they do, it is anyone's guess how the market for used EVs will develop (if there is one). And until the issue of EV RVs starts to become clearer, they will be confined to the fringes of fleet.

And although 1.8% doesn't look like a big number, it's a massive improvement on the 0.016% of private new-car purchasers who actually went out and bought an electric car in 2008 (a total of around 160 units). Assuming slightly optimistically that there will be about a million private registrations a year between now and 2014, 1.8% of buyers choosing electric cars would translate into 55,000 EV sales over the next three years.

That would certainly sow the seeds for a growing electric vehicle market in the UK.

So far so good for this story. but, as regular readers will know, this blog is relentless in its pursuit of meaningless statistics, gilded lilies and over-egged puddings. And in this case I have to take issue with the way the authors of the press release about the survey went about projecting potential sales on the basis of the results.

What they did was to take the percentage of 'definite' EV buyers and extrapolate it across all 19.8 million car-owning households in the UK.

Thus they came up with two big but completely bogus projections for the potential EV market in the next three years: 300,000 electric car sales and a market value of £7 billion. It has to be said that these numbers were widely reported in stories about the survey.

But they aren't what the survey results suggested. The great majority of the UK's 19.8 million car-owning households buy only used cars. It was meaningless to use that number in a projection - the right population to use was private new-car buyers. The real numbers suggested by the survey are five times smaller than the ones put forward by the press release.

So where does that leave us? On the one hand things are still looking up for electric cars. On the other, the age old tradition of getting statistics wrong in press releases is clearly alive and well!

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