Just over one in 10 (11%) UK consumers intend to make their next car purchase an electric vehicle (EV), according to Deloitte's latest Global Automotive Consumer Survey. The research, based on responses from more than 1,200 driving-age consumers in the UK, reveals increased interest in EVs, and marks a doubling from just 5% in 2018, and 6% in 2019.

The study is an annual survey exploring consumer attitudes towards new automotive technologyand is fielded in 20 countries and designed to be nationally representative of the overall population in each market. The 2020 study included 35,000 consumer responses worldwide with 1,264 of those in the UK, but Deloitte released only data for this market.

It said the number of UK consumers intending to buy a traditional petrol or diesel vehicle had steadily declined, with the latest survey finding that fewer than half (48%) would now buy within this category. This was a decline from 73% in 2018, and 63% in 2019.

A third (33%) identified a lack of charging infrastructure as their main concern when considering the move to electric. Conversely, 45% of consumers identified lower emissions and operating costs of EVs as a top driver to make the changeover.

Michael Woodward, UK automotive lead at Deloitte, said: "2020 will see an influx of new EV models enter the UK car market. At the same time, consumer anxiety around battery range is gradually improving as the underlying technology evolves and feasibility of driving electric [is] realised.

"However, the current price of an EV, combined with the ability to charge one, could be holding back more consumers from making the switch to pure electric in the immediate term.

"For those consumers who aren't yet ready, alternatively fuelled cars, such as hybrid electric, tend to be preferred with over a third of consumers seeking this option as their next car.

"Whilst there is clearly still work to be done, these vehicles provide an initial step towards a fully electric future.

"The uptake of EVs is unlikely to overtake demand for traditional petrol or diesel cars any time soon, a tipping point is likely to be reached in 2021. At this point, the cost of ownership, a major consideration for consumers, is set to converge with EV sales and expected to take a significant share of the market.

"Meanwhile, company car tax rates changes this coming April could see demand for EVs hit an all-time high as tax rates are reduced to 0%."

Forecourt to desktop

In a separate part of the survey, 40% of UK consumers expressed interest in moving to a digital purchasing experience for their next vehicle.

Woodward said: "Looking further into the future, the way in which consumers are able to make their vehicle purchase could also become a key consideration for the uptake of EVs. Dealerships are already turning their attention to innovations that should replicate the buying experience consumers currently receive with other products."

Consumers still cautious on driverless

The Deloitte survey also uncovered caution concerning autonomous vehicles (AVs) remains with half of consumers believing the technology will "not be safe".

Two-thirds (66%) expressed specific concerns around cyber security, highlighting fears of hacking or risk to personal safety. Two-thirds also revealed concerns about sharing the roads with fully autonomous heavy goods vehicles, with the same proportion (64%) revealing high profile media reports of accidents involving AVs was responsible for part of this caution.

Woodward said: "Whilst the reality of sharing the road with AVs is a long way off, so too is gaining consumer trust in the technology. However, our research shows that consumer faith does appear to be shifting when it comes to the type of company they trust most to bring fully self driving technology to market."

34% of consumers said they trusted existing car manufacturers to develop AVs, down from 53% in 2017. By comparison, 34% said they held the greatest trust in technology companies, up from just 17% in 2017.