300,000 electric cars on Britain’s roads by 2014Survey suggests £7.2bn green car boom for industry

03 February 2011

Nissan Leaf

New survey estimates one in 20 cars in Britain will be electric by 2014

A new survey released this week has suggested there could be as many as 300,000 electric cars on Britain’s roads by 2014.

The study, conducted by market research consultancy GfK Automotive during November last year, suggests an uptake of £7.2bn from electric car sales in three years’ time.

However, despite the figure of 300,000 cars appearing fairly substantial, that would mean electric cars will make up just 5% of total UK car sales market.

Boom in electric car sales

Nissan Leaf interior

£72bn figure is based on the price of the Nissan Leaf

A total of 5,053 UK citizens were surveyed online, with 1.8% of those saying they would definitely buy an electric car in the next few years.

Based on the current car-buying population of 19.8m households, that 1.8% would account for 300,000 people.

This would only be a very small percentage of total car sales. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) confirmed 2,030,864 new car registrations in 2010. If this number remains consistent over the next three years, the total car sales by 2014 will be 6,092,538, meaning 300,000 will only represent 5% of the market.

The survey's £7.2bn prediction is also questionable as it’s based on 300,000 sales of electric cars priced at £24,000 each – the price of the new Nissan Leaf.

Read our full review of the Nissan Leaf

Charging a Mitsubishi iMiev

Consumers still have concerns over electric car battery ranges

Electric cars: battery range still a key concern

The survey also claims an additional half-a-million electric cars could be sold if consumers overcame barriers concerning electric cars.

The major concern those surveyed had with electric cars was limited range, with 68% of people saying it would stop them buying a battery-powered car.

Another 68% also said they were concerned over limited availability of charging points, and 54% said they would be deterred by the length of battery charging times.

And it wasn’t just functionality issues that cropped up as concerns, with 64% saying the high price of electric car technology would be the determining factor stopping them from buying an electric vehicle.

Mike Durham, automotive expert at GfK Automotive, believes it is up to the government to break down these barriers.

He said: “The government needs to better communicate the Plug-in Car Grant and the industry should address legitimate concerns over range anxiety. Doing both will spark a revolution, and give the British car industry a shot in the arm at a time when it is in need of some good news.”


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