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Three in five motorists in Britain would consider buying an electric car next year, a new study claims.
An improving charging infrastructure, growing range of models and prospect of fuel shortages and higher petrol and diesel prices are the main driving forces behind an increased desire to switch.
However, reports emerging this week claim there is a stand-off between Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps over plans to slash EV grants that could scupper consumer appetite for green plug-in models.
Sunak is also said to be at loggerheads with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng over his intentions to cut the current £2,500 discount for battery models just weeks ahead of the Cop26 climate summit being hosted in Glasgow.
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A survey of 1,731 UK drivers commissioned by The Motor Ombudsman found that 61 per cent of respondents are contemplating getting behind the wheel of an electric car - either new or used - in 2022.
When individuals considering an EV next year were asked about which key factors have influenced their decision to buy one, 59 per cent said it was UK's growing charging network.
The greater choice of electric models now available (42 per cent) was seen as the next biggest factor, while others said recent events, such as the cost of unleaded and diesel increasing to an eight-year high (39 per cent) and fuel supply issues (22 per cent) were influencing their change of heart.
Avoiding incurring future charges, such as the expansion of London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) later this month, was specified by 15 per cent of those looking to go electric.
Bill Fennell, chief ombudsman and managing director, said: 'As our study has shown, electric vehicles are fast becoming a leading choice for motorists when buying a car, thanks in part to the growing charging network and the greater choice of models now on the market.
'However, current events, such as the rising cost of petrol and diesel at the pumps, the unavailability of fuel, as well as the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in the London area, are clearly front of mind for consumers, and are playing their part in the decision regarding what type of car to get next.'
Is Sunak plotting to cut electric car grants again?
The Motor Ombudsman study also found that 18 to 24-year-olds are most likely to turn to battery power for their next car, with 79 per cent of this age group saying they would opt for this type of propulsion.
However, price will be a determining factor standing in the way of that becoming a reality, with electric models - both new and used - typically coming with big premiums over a comparable petrol or diesel model.
The electric cars that currently qualify for the Plug-in Car Grant
Following the latest changes to the PiCG announced in April, fewer than 30 electric cars are now eligible for the £2,500 discount when purchased new.
Find out which models qualify and what they offer in terms of range and performance in our full guide.
And while there is a Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG) available, reports this week suggest it soon might not be as lucrative as it is currently.
The PiCG was originally launched by the Government in 2011 and offered up to £5,000 off the price of a new EV.
While the value and availability of the grant has been trimmed over the course of the prevailing decade, it was most recently adjusted in April when it was halved from the original amount to just £2,500 and capped for only models priced at less than £35,000 - down from £50,000 previously.
The announcement comes at a time when ministers - especially the Transport Secretary - are pushing drivers towards cleaner vehicles, ahead of the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel passenger cars from 2030.
Mike Hawes, chief executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said the April decision to slash grants was the 'wrong move at the wrong time' and would 'move the UK even further behind other markets, markets which are increasing their support, making it yet more difficult for the UK to get sufficient supply'.
He said slashing discounts on the greenest cars 'sent the wrong message to the consumer, especially private customers, and to an industry challenged to meet the Government's ambition to be a world leader in the transition to zero emission mobility'.
1/3 SLIDES © Provided by This Is Money The Chancellor is now pushing to slash grants as he seeks reduce outgoings in the wake of the pandemic and ahead of the spending review on 27 October
2/3 SLIDES © Provided by This Is Money Transport Secretary Grant Shapps
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Yet The Telegraph claims the Chancellor is plotting a fresh rounds of cuts to the scheme just weeks before decision makers from around the world convene in Glasgow at the United Nations Climate Change Conference to discuss how to accelerate towards zero-carbon targets.
The Treasury is now pushing to slash the scheme yet again as it seeks to shift focus and funding towards bolstering the country's charging infrastructure and reduce outgoings in the wake of the pandemic and ahead of the spending review on 27 October.
Both Shapps - who used the PiCG to purchase his Tesla Model 3 electric car before the last cuts in April - and Kwarteng are said to oppose the proposed cuts over concerns that reduced support to help drivers switch to electric models could derail the growing public appetite to ditch polluting petrol and diesel cars and also send the wrong message ahead of Cop26.
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However, the Government's plan to ditch the PiCG entirely has been known for some time.
The current commitment is to retain the discount scheme until at least the end of the 2022-23 financial year, but it could be culled entirely once that deadline passes.
This was originally hinted in the Government's 2018 Road to Zero strategy document - the first to publish plans to terminate the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.
It stated: 'As the [electric vehicle] market becomes better established and more competitive, the need for direct government financial support will decrease.
'We therefore expect to deliver a managed exit from the grant in due course and to continue to support the uptake of ultra low emission vehicles through other measures.'
The paper also referenced the removal of grants for the installation of domestic chargers, with subsidies currently available via the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS).
EV owners overspending on charging by plugging in at peak times
More than a quarter (28 per cent) of EV drivers charge their vehicle whenever they get home rather than waiting for the cheapest time to plug in, according to new research.
An average EV driver who charges whenever, irrelevant of price, are likely losing out on £200 per year on their charging alone and with rising energy prices, is set to spend an extra £160 on energy unnecessarily by not waiting for a cheaper off-peak period to charge their vehicle, according to research by comparison website, Love my EV.
The research found that over half of EV drivers are plugging in to coincide with off-peak price windows. However, the supply of renewables can be quite different to the off-peak windows of EV tariffs currently on the market.
Love my EV's analysis of National Grid data for 2019-2020 found the greenest time to charge was between 2am and 4am, when the grid was on average 30 per cent renewable energy.
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The actual renewable content within these hours ranged from 15 per cent to 45 per cent, and some on days midday charging could have been even greener.
Currently only 12 per cent of EV drivers hold off charging their car until a point in the week when they predict energy prices and carbon would be lowest, it said.
And less than three per cent are making use of automated charging when energy is cheapest or lowest carbon intensity.
Mat Thomson, co-founder of Love my EV said battery car owners need to move away from the convenience of plugging in their vehicles as soon as they get home from work.
'This change in behaviour is good for the consumer, as lower energy prices during off-peak hours can be passed on.
'An average EV driver now stands to save an estimated £360 a year by simply charging during off-peak hours – and there may be further savings if they delay other household energy use,' he said.