Ditch diesel and go green. That’s the verdict from the Government as it strives to convince motorists to swap their oil burners for electric vehicles in a bid to reduce air pollution.
But the fact is that many drivers simply can’t afford to.
It’s widely known that the purchase price of an electric car currently dwarfs that of an equivalent petrol or diesel model.
However, exclusive new data from Compare the Market for This is Money said there’s a substantial insurance premium to pay too.
Going green? Not just yet: A new survey found just 6% of drivers intend to buy an electric car next
Based on the hundreds of thousands of quotes ran through the price comparison website each year, the average insurance policy for an electric car worked out at £1,070.
That’s 45 per cent more than an average quote for a petrol or diesel motor of £740.
The biggest reason for this – according to insurance-calculating insiders – is the higher cost to repair an electric car if it’s damaged in a collision, especially if the batteries take a thump in the crash.
But cost is just one of a number of reasons drivers are hesitant about converting to electric vehicles, despite recent new-car registrations claiming there’s been a big uptake in hybrid cars and zero emissions models in recent months.
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders in the UK, alternative-fuel car sales were up 41 per cent year-on-year in September.
However, a closer look at the data shows this is just a small pinch of the market – at just 22,628 cars registered last month, that’s just five per cent of the 426,170 new models leaving forecourts.
In total for the year to date, 94,125 alternative fuel new cars have been registered – that’s a mere 4.6 per cent of the 2million models sold in 2017 so far.
Alternative fuel vehicles – including electric and hybrid cars – are 34.6% up year-on-year. However, less than one in 20 new cars sold this year is a green vehicle
Car owners are hesitant about buying a plug-in car due their concerns for where to charge one
Cost is the primary reason behind the reluctance to switch.
Some 49 per cent of the 2,098 drivers surveyed by the comparison site said they couldn’t afford to buy an electric vehicle.
Of these, two in five said they simply don’t have the money to buy an electric car and nearly one in ten are worried that the insurance costs are too high – a figure that would be much higher if more drivers were running quotes on electric cars.
Based on the latest government stats that say there are almost 38million licence holders in the UK, some 18.5million motorists don’t have the finances to switch to a green car.
That means a huge proportion of the nation’s motorists are being caught in a trap of potentially having to pay toxin taxes and levies that have been proposed for both diesel and petrol vehicle owners, starting this month with the London T-Charge.
This reflects why so few people are interested in electric cars at the moment.
Compare the Market’s research said just six per cent of motorists will buy an electric car next.
More than two thirds said they will stick to petrol and diesel, while 27 per cent will opt for a hybrid vehicle.
The research also suggests that younger drivers – who are likely to have no choice but to buy an electric car during their lifetime if the government bans the sale of all but electric cars in 2040 – have a more negative view on green vehicles than older generations.
Over a third of over 55-year olds would like their next car to be an electric or hybrid model, the study said.
That compared to under a quarter of 18 to 24-year olds, who are startled by the upfront costs of owning an eco model.
For instance, the UK’s best-selling pure electric car, the Nissan Leaf, costs from around £21,000 – that should put it way out of bounds for the average 18 to 24-year old who is looking to spend just £6,500 on their next car.
According to Compare the Market, the average insurance policy for an electric car worked out at £1,070
However, with electric vehicles depreciating more rapidly than petrols and diesels, younger drivers could potentially afford to buy a newer electric car than an internal combustion engined alternative.
Value retention stats suggest electric models currently hold around just 20 per cent of their value after three years – that should put many used zero-emissions cars within the budget of young drivers.
Other concerns about switching to green transport included the lack of infrastructure and concerns for where an electric car could be charged.
The Nissan Leaf is the best-selling electric car in the UK and costs around £21,000 new but only retain around 20% of their original value after three years
Some 65 per cent said this was a stumbling block stopping them from taking a zero-emissions route, especially as there are currently just 4,855 public charging stations in the UK – that’s not enough when you consider 22,000 hybrid and plug-in cars were sold last month alone.
John Miles, the new head of motor at Compare the Market, said: ‘Despite the government’s plan for all cars to go green by 2040, motorists still have significant and legitimate concerns about electric cars.
‘Nobody wants to run out of power half way through a journey and find themselves miles from a charging point.
‘Whilst the number of charging points across the UK is growing day by day, there are still fears that the UK does not have the sufficient infrastructure to cope with this rapidly growing market.
‘For electric cars to really take off, steps must be taken to improve and expand the infrastructure on which they rely and reduce the upfront cost.
‘Whilst the ongoing running cost of an electric car might be lower due to savings on fuel, we are not yet at the point of critical mass where manufacture, repair, insurance and distribution costs fall significantly.
‘This means that joining green revolution remains merely an ‘electric dream’ for the majority of British motorists.’