Pent up demand for electric vehicles

Hamish Ainsley - Co-Founder of TryEV

Hamish Ainsley - Co-Founder of TryEV

A few weeks ago I posted a survey on Linkedin to get my own impression of the thoughts of people in my network on how the EV market is shaping up. The response was surprising to me - I didn't expect the level of views and comments, and I think that is a sign in itself that this is an issue that is top of mind for many.

I need to get the elephant in the room out of the way first, in that there is clearly a little bit of scope for bias in this survey due to the fact that people in my network and their contacts are in similar industries to me and are generally sympathetic to EVs. The image above speaks to this factor as my biggest single audience came from Tesla employees! 

So whilst I’m not claiming the survey as scientific, I do think the results are interesting all the same, and they do actually seem to be roughly in line with some recent press on the subject. The post has reached over 90,000 at the time of writing so it has had reasonable spread beyond my 2nd degree connections. 

There are over 7000 charging points in the UK 



Here are the results:

24% of respondents (74 of 310) already own an electric car. I’m assuming here that many of those who went for option one are PHEV owners, which is perfectly reasonable of course. Plug in hybrids have a significant role to play in the transition to low carbon transport.

27% (85 of 310) plan to buy an electric next (within 3 years). 

34% (105 of 310) do not see themselves considering an EV in the next 3-5 years

15% (46 of 310) are trying to avoid car ownership altogether.

I think it is very encouraging to note that over 50% of those who commented either own or plan to own an EV in the near future. This is further evidence of what I already considered to be the case - there is significant appetite and pent up demand for electric cars. Tesla’s 400k+ pre-orders for the Model 3 was the first really big, bold indication of this, and there is a lot in the press to suggest this runs deeper than what Tesla can offer. 

This report from Ars Technica summarising a McKinsey survey has a strikingly similar result in relation to the number of people considering purchasing an EV in the US, at 30%. It also highlights a problem that needs to be addressed, in that only 3% actually go on to make the purchase. This tells us that there are barriers to adoption to be solved, but solved they will be as more and more businesses turn their attention to meeting infrastructure challenges. One of the issues highlighted by McKinsey in their report is a general lack of awareness and understanding of EVs in the US. The brand-neutral advertising campaign that VW have been obligated to make as part of their penalty for dieselgate should help a lot with that.


More than 750,000

EVs were sold worldwide last year, compared to 500,000 sold in 2015.

Last week’s BBC report is even more encouraging. Diesel car sales are on the slump, with a drop of 4.3% in January, while alternatively fuelled vehicles enjoyed a sales growth of close to 20% in the same reporting period, and now have a market share of over 4%. This will be further enhanced if the government’s widely anticipated £500m diesel scrappage scheme comes to fruition.

Interesting times lay ahead - the oncoming surge in EVs is now assured. Automakers have been watching the market closely and the level of choice we can expect in the coming few years is going to surprise a lot of people. Those close to this issue will highlight the sheer number of announcements of planned EV models, seemingly on a daily basis. VW have reached the conclusion (partly on their own and partly by obligation) that they need to pour considerable investment in to retooling factories to build EVs. As the most prolific automaker in the world by a considerable margin, this will continue to drive a rapid shift as their competitors will not want to risk being left behind. Bring it on!

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