EV or not EV, that is the question…

Are you considering EV ownership? Or would you like to help develop understanding in relation to some of the barriers to EV uptake? If so, you might be able to help my PhD research.

Electric vehicle ownership is moving in the right direction. By the end of Q3 of 2019, the number of licensed EVs on London roads was its highest at 28,907. However, this still only accounts for one percent of privately owned vehicles. As transport accounts for roughly 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions a greater uptake of EVs would be advantageous.

My PhD research journey has covered a range of themes, but cultural attitudes has emerged as a substantial gap in current understanding.

Range anxiety, charging time and price have been identified as the biggest barriers to EV adoption. While range and charging time are being addressed, price may be a more complex factor than previously thought. Early studies indicate that price is a factor because EVs are typically more expensive than petrol or diesel vehicles, but the context of what is deemed to be expensive may need to be viewed through the lens of how people purchase their vehicles. For example, some people buy their cars in cash while others prefer payment plans.

Total cost of ownership studies tend to compare the costs of purchasing, operating and maintaining ICE and EVs in like-for-like parameters. This is a reasonable approach when the vehicles have been purchased in the same way but not suitable when they have not. The sticking point of cost and perceptions of affordability are likely to factor more with drivers who purchase their cars in cash as they will need to part with more cash than usual or take out a line of credit in order to drive an ultra low emission vehicle.

What would make you take the turn towards electric vehicles? And what is preventing you?

According to thisismoney.co.uk, around 26% of used cars purchased in 2018 were purchased on finance. Used car purchases make up 75% percent of car sales, therefore, if this segment of drivers were to choose an electric vehicle as their next purchase there would be a meaningful increase in the number of EVs in the UK.

What shapes a person’s preference for cash over finance and vice versa? Could a person’s attitude to money and finance come from the environment in which they grew up? If yes, could these attitudes be attributed to a person’s culture? More importantly, if there is a strong aversion to finance within certain segments of society, could this be a potential hindrance to increasing EV adoption in London?

There are some reasonable assumptions that could be made about a person’s attitude to money and finance based on their age and socio-economic status, but my research seeks to understand if there are cultural proxies that might be responsible for the way a person views money and finance.

If you are based in London and drive a petrol, diesel or hybrid vehicle and have a few minutes to spare it would be great if you could fill out my survey: https://sj.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/ev-adoption-survey

By Shaherah Jordan

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