Helping buyers with their choices for electric and plug-in cars

The EV trend is starting to gain traction but how can we help? Car buyers needn’t be put off by buying electric, they could save money, even taking the generally higher purchase cost into consideration.

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With the 2030 deadline for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars looming large, there’s currently a huge focus on electric and plug-in cars.

But while the intention to buy is clearly there, with a recent Auto Trader survey showing as many as 75% of new car buyers are considering an EV as their next purchase, there are thousands of customers who are currently sitting on the electric fence, unsure of whether or not an electric car is right for them.

Tom Barnard is editor of electrifying.com, a website dedicated to helping buyers understand electric and plug-in cars and to make informed choices about their next purchase, which from a showroom perspective is essential. The last thing any dealer wants is a customer wanting to bring the car back saying it’s not right for them.

Tom says:  “The key is for people to do their sums and work out how far they really drive – they may be pleasantly surprised. If they can have an electric car, which depends entirely on their circumstances, then they can save thousands of pounds, even taking the generally higher purchase cost into consideration.

“They shouldn’t be put off because they do a few long journeys a year to visit family, which might not work with the range of their EV. If it’s occasional use, then they can still hire a petrol or diesel car and be quids in. Or they could consider a plug-in hybrid, which won’t have the same overall range but if they have a short commute, it could work out as the perfect compromise.

“They’re also cheaper to own. A service plan on some models costs just £72 a year. You couldn’t even get an oil change on a petrol or diesel model for that.”

The EV trend is starting to have a good level of cut-through in the new car market, too. In May 2021, for example, EV sales ran at 7.7%, and that’s just battery electric models. Including plug-in hybrids, they represent almost a third of the market.

For some manufacturers, EVs are a huge slice of their market share. MG, for example, claims that one in three of its new cars are battery electric, and over half of the models it sells to fleet.

But an EV isn’t for everyone right now. Erin Baker from Auto Trader, which carried out the EV survey earlier this year, said: “Not everyone is ready to change. Nor are EVs the perfect solution for everyone. If you live in a completely remote rural area, then a battery electric car probably isn’t for you. Not yet, anyway. But as technology develops and range increases, and as we head towards that 2030 deadline, you can be sure to see plenty more manufacturers offering better and better range EVs that will ultimately change the way we drive.”

The same thing happened with diesel in the 1990s, when the likes of Citroen, Peugeot, Vauxhall and Volkswagen Group introduced diesel cars that were far more socially acceptable than their predecessors. The fuel went from being a minority to taking 57% of the car market in its best year – 2004.

It probably won’t be long before electricity does the same.

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