Survey shows a fifth of UK motorists considering buying an electric car

A survey by the RAC Foundation has shown that a fifth of motorists in the UK are considering buying an electric car in the next five years.

Motorists may be incentivised by the recent announcement about the promise of government grants up to £5000 to buy an electric car from 2011. However the RAC Foundation claims that, based on the government’s own figures, mass market electric cars won’t be available until 2017.

The Foundation claims that this may result in may motorists ending up frustrated by the promise of grants for cars that don’t exist.

The fifth of UK motorists identified in the GfK NOP survey for the RAC Foundation equates to 6.75 million drivers. If they all wanted a grant of £5000, that would equate to £34 billion of government money.

Commenting on the findings, the director of the RAC Foundation Professor Stephen Glaister said: “What the Government is in danger of doing is putting the cart before the horse. It is actively promoting the purchase of electric vehicles long before there is any chance of manufacturers making them widely available.”

“It has gone out of its way to encourage people to make green choices, yet these choices are not yet realistic.”

“Even by the Government’s own analysis, this form of environmentally-friendly transport will not be on the mass market for another eight years – and even that assumes a major breakthrough in battery technology in the meantime.”

“Ministers’ thinking on green technology is all over the place. They talk of incentives of up to £5,000 for prospective buyers of electric cars from 2011. Yet at that stage there will be almost nothing in the showroom for people to purchase.”

“What’s more, the same announcement talked of a mere £20 million being spent on a national charging infrastructure, but only last week the Mayor of London acknowledged that at least £60 million would be needed to provide such a network in the capital alone.”

“And all this comes even before you ask how the electricity to power these phantom vehicles will be produced – for the next decade (before new nuclear power stations are built for example) the answer will almost certainly be by burning fossil fuels.”

Less than 0.1% of the UK’s 26 million cars are currently electric.