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EV education urgently needed, says fleet management company

Date: 21 November 2017   |   Author: Rachel Boagey

Drivers require extensive education on the various electric and hybrid powered vehicles on the market before sales of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) start to accelerate towards UK Government targets, according to CLM Fleet Management.

CLM commissioned research last month that showed drivers' knowledge of electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids was "woefully lacking".

The government recently announced that it wants all new cars and vans to be 'near-zero emission' by 2040. However, CLM notes that while sales of AFVs are still rising, they are doing so from a very small base level.

In October, sales of petrol-electric hybrids rose by 31% to 4,742 new units, compared with 3,618 new registrations in October 2016. However, this represented just 3% of the October new car market.

Plug-in electric cars, meanwhile, increased by 47% from 1,882 units in October 2016 to 2,764 new registrations this October, but accounted for just 1.7% of the total new car market for the month.

In the CLM study, 84% of respondents said they knew what the term AFV meant, but 82% of them did not currently run one.

When prompted, 82% of respondents had heard of hybrid EVs and 72% had heard of plug-in hybrid EVs. However, only 61% had heard of battery EVs and just 28% knew of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

Respondents were also asked to match the various types of low-emission vehicles against definitions of how they operated. While 66% of motorists surveyed were able to correctly match the definition for battery EVs, only 38% were able to do the same for hybrid EVs, 28% were able to match the definition of fuel cell EVs and just 24% successfully identified a plug-in hybrid EV.

Given the lack of knowledge of the various vehicle types available, CLM says it was perhaps unsurprising that the percentage of drivers who were likely to opt for these types of vehicles as their next car was generally low.

A total of 33% said they were likely to consider a hybrid EV as their next car, 27% said they would consider a plug-in hybrid EV, and just 22% said they were likely to consider a battery EV.

Respondents also said they felt poorly informed regarding the key facts relating to owning and driving an EV. A total of 49% said they felt ill-informed about the journey range of electric and hybrid cars, and 53% about the availability and location of charge points.

However, the CLM survey also revealed that 68% of respondents were unlikely to choose a diesel as their next car. Only 11% of drivers surveyed believed that petrol and diesel vehicles would still dominate UK new car sales in 20 years' time.

Respondents, however, felt particularly ill-informed about list prices, government grants and company car tax rules for electric and hybrid vehicles.

"Our results very much point to the fact that the industry as a whole has a lot of work to do in raising levels of awareness and understanding of the growing choices now available to motorists," said CLM managing director John Lawrence. "Only then will registrations of AVFs increase significantly beyond their current diminutive levels.

"Sales of AFVs are still at very low levels and account for less than 4% of the UK new car market. For government targets to be reached, it requires a sea change in attitude and knowledge, as there are still clear concerns amongst motorists over affordability, range and charging points.

"Increased education would undoubtedly help this process and this is where fleet management providers like ourselves have a clear role to play in providing our customers with a clear and detailed analysis of the alternative fuel options available."