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Why we need to be wary of the electric car headlines

12 November 2019

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The UK now has more electric car charging points than petrol stations, according to the media. With 9,300 EV charging locations outnumbering the 8,400 fuel stations in the UK, it’s no surprise this caught the eye of the press.

But there’s a misunderstanding that risks dealers and customers overestimating the speed of the EV revolution. A petrol station meets the needs of tens, if not hundreds, of drivers in the time an EV charging point charges up an alternative fuel vehicle.

Petrol stations have multiple pumps, and a full tank needs a maximum of five minutes compared to the 30 minutes most EVs require. Headlines like this paint a false picture, and dealers are well placed to set the record straight.

The true story is still a positive one. The first six months of this year saw a 27.6% growth in demand for used hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric cars (AFVs) as 65,765 changed hands. And the new market saw 13.9% growth.

Our Britain Under the Bonnet report found 39% of drivers are considering an electric vehicle as their next purchase, an increase of 7.5m drivers in the past two years.

There’s no doubt that we are in the midst of a sea change. Consumers are becoming more aware of the benefits of AFVs – from environmental protection to lower costs of running a car after the initial outlay – and manufacturers are responding to this demand.

The job of the dealer is more important than ever. Education is needed to help customers overcome their concerns about range, charging time, costs, and to correct any misunderstandings from the media.

The government also has a role to play; it must steer its focus towards developing the infrastructure needed to meet the rising demand, from charging points outside of the big cities to solutions for customers with on-street parking.

For dealers, expertise is key. 91% of drivers have done research before they buy their car. Social media and eBay are now a research tool for one in ten. Electric cars aren’t mainstream, so people are doing more research ahead of time, meaning the questions they have for dealers are likely to be more complex.

Do your research, not just on makes and models but on the finance options and the charging options.

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