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Why people want to buy electric cars – And what’s stopping them

A recent market study by Deloitte shows that car buyers around the globe are drawn to electric vehicles (EV) mainly due to their lower fuel costs and emissions when compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) cars.

On the other hand, range anxiety and a lack of public charging infrastructure are the main elements that keep consumers away from adopting EVs.

The Deloitte study ran from September through October 2021 and included over 26,000 consumers from 25 countries, 1,011 of which were from South Africa.

Buying an EV

Following savings on fuel, the second major factor that piques interest in EVs is the perceived positive effect they have on climate change and the environment.

Depending on the country surveyed, between 16-45% of respondents said they believe battery-powered cars are more environmentally friendly than ICE ones.

A better driving experience when compared to ICE cars is another big drawcard for EVs, as are fewer maintenance expenses.

“For the most part, people are drawn to an EV because of an expectation of lower fuel costs, or they are concerned about climate change and want to reduce emissions,” said Deloitte.

At the other end of the spectrum, consumers in China, Germany, and the United States (U.S.) said the main element keeping them away from buying an EV is the generally lower driving range compared to ICE vehicles.

Motorists from Germany want EVs that can drive a minimum of 616km on a single charge, while those from the U.S. prefer EVs that can do upwards of 800km.

Individuals from Japan, South Korea, India, and Southeast Asia (SEA) are similarly worried about a lack of public charging infrastructure, calling this their biggest reason for not buying an EV.

“Consumers who said they are not considering an EV as their next vehicle cited range anxiety and a lack of public charging infrastructure as their biggest concerns,” said Deloitte.

More reasons many participants gave for not wanting an EV included the price premium these cars currently have, the long time they take to charge, and low confidence in battery safety.

In total, 31% of respondents from the U.S., 34% from SEA, 42% from China and India, 51% from Germany, 61% from Japan, and 63% from South Korea said they want their next vehicle to run on alternative energy sources.

However, a significant portion (24-42%) said if the price of electricity increases to become comparable to filling up a tank with petrol or diesel, it will sway them back toward ICE vehicles.

Charging an EV

Deloitte questioned potential EV owners on where they are planning to charge the cars after taking ownership.

The large majority of respondents plan to fill up at home overnight, whereas roughly 10% of respondents across all countries – except the U.S. – said they will charge their EV most often while at work.

In regions where urban space is limited and home chargers are still very expensive – such as SEA and South Korea – around a third of consumers said they will mainly rely on public charging infrastructure if they buy an EV right now.

“Consumers not planning to charge a PHEV/BEV at home say they either can’t install a charger or the cost of installing a charger is prohibitive,” said Deloitte.

Renewable power for charging infrastructure is not yet a large concern, though, as most prospective EV owners are planning to use electricity from the grid to juice up their cars.

“Among those who plan to charge their PHEV/BEV at home, consumers in India, China, and the SEA region plan to use both regular grid and renewable power,” said Deloitte.

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