Conflicting and confusing information on the latest generation of battery electric vehicles has created a ‘knowledge gap’ for potential buyers.

This is holding them back from choosing an EV as their next purchase, a new White Paper from What Car? has found.

This is despite 2019 being set to become the year of the electric vehicle, with up to 20 new models scheduled to be launched. Meanwhile, traffic data suggests public interest in EVs is at record levels. In a study of over 9,000 motorists, 8.4% said they were considering a fully electric car as their next vehicle.

Over a period of three months, the study asked consumers to rate their understanding of electric vehicles as they researched the technology. Buyers rated their initial knowledge at an average of 2.7 out of five in the first ten days, rising to 3.4 after ten days of research. However, after a month of research their understanding fell to 3.3, which suggests some people came across confusing or conflicting information. After three months, average understanding peaked at 3.8.

By comparison, What Car? found buyers rated their initial understanding of both petrol and diesel cars at 3.8. In other words, it takes three months of research for potential EV buyers to close the knowledge gap they have on EVs in comparison to petrol and diesel vehicles.

The What Car? research also found that EV costs, not range, are the biggest barrier for buyers. What Car? Editor Steve Huntingford explained: “Of the 9,000 drivers surveyed, over 40% told us the price premium electric vehicles continue to command over petrol and diesel cars is too much for them to make the switch. However, when given time to research the potential cost savings of owning and running an electric vehicle, the proportion fell to 35.6%.


Range was the second biggest concern, with 28% put-off by the reduced flexibility compared to petrol and diesel, even though 10% would be able to drive an EV without making changes to their lifestyle. A further 15% said they were concerned about charging opportunities and infrastructure, while 16% wished for a larger selection of electric vehicles to choose from before buying one.

Steve Huntingford, added: “Our research has shown there’s a gap when it comes to the public’s understanding of electric vehicle technology. This is holding some back from actually buying one. It’s understandable that it takes buyers three months of research to be as comfortable with electric vehicles as they are at the beginning of their research on petrol and diesel vehicles, because the technology is new – but it is clear the industry and legislators must start making it easier for would-be buyers.

“This year is set to be the year of the electric car, but the technology will not reach its full potential until more comprehensive and up-to-date information is more widespread.”