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2 In 3 Kiwis Will Consider Buying An EV

Sixty-seven per cent of Kiwis would consider an electric vehicle (EV) for their next car, according to Trade Me’s annual EV survey.

Trade Me’s Head of Motors Alan Clark said almost 3,000 New Zealanders took part in the survey which looked at Kiwis’ perceptions of electric vehicles.

“While it's encouraging to see such a large number of Kiwis considering an EV for their next car, this is actually a drop when compared to last year. In our 2019 survey, 74 per cent of participants said they would look at purchasing an EV.”

Mr Clark said this decrease is not surprising given the impact of COVID-19 on Kiwi’s wallets and the wider economy.

“There are plenty of New Zealand households taking a look at their spending at the moment and making the switch to an electric vehicle might not stack up when they have cheaper alternatives during this uncertain time.”

Money is on Kiwis’ minds

Looking at the factors deterring participants from getting behind the wheel of an EV, the survey showed that money is key. “The initial upfront cost of an electric vehicle was the number one reason participants said they would not buy an EV, with 69 percent of Kiwis seeing this as a barrier.”

However, Mr Clark said he expected cost to become less of an obstacle as prices drop in the coming years. “While EVs have been around for about eight years now, it’s only been in the past few years that we’ve started to see the average price of an EV decrease as more secondhand EVs hit the market. 

“New Zealanders love their secondhand vehicles and as more secondhand EVs become available, we will see prices decrease and these vehicles will become a more affordable option.

“There has been a lot of talk about incentivising Kiwis to purchase an EV with the Government discussing a variety of subsidies. We expect this topic to come up again as we get closer to the election and work towards the government’s goal of 64,000 electric vehicles on our roads by the end of 2021.”

Hybrids overtake EVs as the most popular non-fuel option

For the first time this year, the survey found that hybrid cars were more appealing to Kiwis than EVs. ‘Twenty two per cent of those surveyed said they would most likely purchase a hybrid as their next vehicle, compared to just 12 per cent who said they would most likely purchase an EV.

“A further 21 per cent said they were not sure which type of car they would buy next – many of whom might be weighing up hybrid and EV options.”

Mr Clark put this shift down to three factors – technology, practicality and price. “With recent developments, we are seeing owners of plug-in hybrid cars now using the electric function almost exclusively, but still preferring the flexibility of being able to switch to fuel should they want to.”

While lower ongoing costs and environmental reasons were the main reasons behind Kiwis buying a hybrid, size and practicality came out as another priority. “With more models on the market, it is not surprising hybrids are perceived as slightly more practical. It will be interesting to see if this changes over time as EVs become more accessible.”

Mr Clark said hybrids were also cheaper to buy than an EV. “In July, the average price of a hybrid was $14,122, while the average price of an EV was $17,070.”

COVID’s impact on the environment driving electric consideration

Mr Clark said environmental concerns, owning the latest model and lower ongoing costs came out as the top motivators for purchasing an EV.

“It’s fascinating to see New Zealanders’ love for the environment trumping cost savings as a motivation to move towards an EV.

"The lockdown period had an impact on this too, the survey found that those aware of the lockdown’s positive impact on the environment were also more likely to consider purchasing an EV.

“Participants were 13 per cent more likely to consider an EV for their next car if they knew about the improvement in air quality globally as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown.”

Kiwis severely underestimate EV range

Survey results showed Kiwis are ill-informed on how far an EV can travel between charges. “Range was the second biggest concern preventing participants from purchasing an EV, but on average range expectations were 43 per cent lower than actual capability.”

Mr Clark said participants guessed models like the Nissan Leaf could travel 168 kilometers on a full charge, but they can actually travel well over 200 kilometers.

“Educating Kiwis on this, and other perceived barriers to purchase, will be a vital consideration for the Government to meet its 2021 goals.”

Familiarity makes EVs more appealing

Previous experience with EVs was shown to have a significant impact on whether participants would consider owning one. “Those who had driven an EV before were 8 per cent more likely to consider buying one.

“Participants were also 13 per cent more likely to consider buying an EV if their friends or family owned one. On the other hand, Kiwis were 15 per cent more likely to buy a petrol or diesel car next if they did not have family or friends that owned an EV.

“Given how participants underestimated EV distance capabilities, it is not surprising Kiwis more acquainted with the vehicles appear to have more confidence in them.”

Millennials most likely to consider switching to electric

Of the age groups surveyed, Millennials were the most likely to consider buying an EV, while Baby Boomers were the least likely. “74 per cent of Millennials said they would consider an EV for their next vehicle, followed by 68 per cent of Gen Xers, and 59 per cent of Baby Boomers.

“Looking at the regions, Aucklanders and Wellingtonians were most open to EVs, with 72 per cent and 71 per cent saying they would look at one for their next car respectively. While in the West Coast, only 38% of participants would consider an EV, the lowest percentage of all regions.”

Mr Clark said EVs may be better suited to the transport needs of those living in cities who have charging stations readily available to them and who don’t need to factor in things like towing which impact on a car’s range too.

© Scoop Media

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