EV battery range anxiety on the rise, holding back UK’s electrification – new research suggests

Somo's new research also highlights strong opportunity for digital products to plug the growing anxiety and education gap

Despite almost half (45%) of non EV (electric vehicle) drivers indicating they’d consider a petrol engine car for their next vehicle, 100% of them also said they’d now consider an EV, according to new consumer research from digital product agency Somo. Promisingly, this number is up from just one third when respondents were asked the same in 2019.

These findings come from Somo’s latest annual consumer research and new report ‘Electrification Without Friction, surveying 1,300 UK drivers who said they were planning to buy a new car in the next 12 months.

Although interest in EVs is growing, it is slow and inhibited by consumer anxiety, lack of support, and lack of education:

  • Almost half (45%) of non EV drivers are still anxious about battery range, which has risen from 32% when respondents were asked the same in 2021.
  • 1 in 5 said that having to research the location of charging points when on a long journey is stopping them from switching to electric vehicles.
  • 1 in 5 said they don’t know enough about the technology and reliability of EVs to make the switch.

This indicates there is a clear need for better education and an opportunity for clever digital products to help tackle the growing anxiety and support drivers looking to make the switch.

Cost is a double edged sword

Upfront price is still a big factor, with 40% of respondents listing this as a reason for not switching to an EV just yet, up from 2021 (34%). A third (32%) of respondents cited this year’s higher energy costs as a blocker.

However, zero vehicle tax as an incentive grew in popularity – 53% of drivers chose this in 2022, compared to 35% in 2021. Lower running costs grew from 31% in 2022 to 52% in 2022; while soaring fuel prices also present a compelling reason for non EV drivers to switch for 54% of respondents.

Positive digital experiences are creating more EV advocates

Promisingly, amongst current EV owners, the sentiment towards EVs has only grown in strength. Somo’s 2021 survey identified high demand for digital products to make EV purchase simpler, and this year’s data reveals that interest is still high. For example, 38% of EV owners said that, during their EV purchase process, they did not have access to a tool that compares the running costs (usage, service, maintenance, taxes, etc.) of an electric car versus an equivalent petrol/diesel car, but would have found it useful.

When asked what areas of the purchasing journey and experience EV owners were satisfied with, there was a jump in the amount of people saying they were somewhat or completely satisfied with the pre-purchase experience (i.e. virtual or physical tour of the car), when compared to last year, at 47% in 2021 versus 65% in 2022.

There was also a jump in the amount of people who said they would find it useful to have a tool that compares common features, performance and specs between EVs and petrol/diesels cars, when compared to last year, at 12% in 2021 versus 28% in 2022.

Commenting on the research, Ross Sleight, Chief Strategy Officer at Somo said:

This is our fourth year running this research, and we continue to see the same core customer concerns and barriers to EV ownership. The key areas that digital can help in addressing these concerns – the suitability of EVs for customers, the perceptions of costs upfront and over the time of EV ownership, and the cognitive load of navigating an increasingly fragmented in-life experience for EV – will all need to be solved to help accelerate the EV switchover. These concerns are exacerbated this year by the ongoing cost of living crisis and rapid rise in energy and fuel costs, and when combined with ongoing customer concerns like range anxiety on the increase, it’s very clear that further action is needed to help demystify the EV ecosystem for customers. The research also highlights the challenges for all providers in the ecosystem. For example, in order to meet the needs of the estimated 7 million fully electric cars on UK roads by 2030, we estimate charging point installations will need to grow by well over 500% in the next eight years. This and the myriad of other challenges for providers represent an opportunity for OEMs, energy companies, infrastructure providers and government bodies to work together to meet the ambitious adoption targets in the glide path to 2030. Cross-sector collaboration to create a cohesive and simple customer experience and journey will be crucial to accelerate the mass adoption of EVs in order to meet the UK’s electrification goals.


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