The urban consumer in a low carbon world

12 June 2012 #SMMT News

Cheap product and simplicity of ownership are the key drivers to take-up of electric and hybrid vehicles, suggests a panel of experts, chaired by What Car? Editor-in-Chief, Chas Hallett, at the SMMT International Automotive Summit.

Following a clear-cut opening remark from Thierry Koskas, Global Head of Electric Vehicles at Renault, that “those who think customers buy electric vehicles solely because they’re green will be sorely disappointed”, fellow panel members, Bethan Carver, Manager of Product Development at EDF and Dr Ben Lane, Director at transport solutions consultancy STS, discussed some of the key challenges to the take-up of electric vehicles and, crucially, some of those that have been overplayed.

For example, research has shown that motorists focus heavily on the day-to-day costs of motoring, such as refuelling and actually find the procedure of charging vehicles at home, off-peak, perfectly convenient, suggesting that the extent of public and on-street charging infrastructure is far from being the largest obstacle to EV ownership. And with the majority of motorists only travelling around 30 miles per day, electric vehicles with a 100 mile-plus range have proven wholly adequate for consumers.

With an education programme on the safety of home-charging firmly under way, growing appreciation of the technological features of new ultra-low carbon vehicles and the pleasurable driving experience they offer – electric vehicles that provide high levels of torque and acceleration – there was confidence amongst the panel that these vehicles will be the mass market model of the future.

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