Expert Comment: Demand for Electric Cars Will Rise As Infrastructure Improves

Professor Ben Lowe from the Kent Business School at the University of Kent comments on the news MPs have urged the government to bring its ban on diesel and petrol car forward to 2032.

As more investment is made into electric vehicles and the infrastructure to support them, consumer interest and uptake of such vehicles is likely to increase.

‘Latent demand for electric cars exists but so far acceptance has been relatively low due to consumers perceiving a number of risks and costs associated with such cars. There are switching costs for moving from a petrol car to an electric car (e.g. charging point installation costs, increased cost of the car etc) and so far the benefits of owning an electric car have come with added risks from low access to infrastructure (e.g. charging points), a low driving range (e.g. run time) and a lengthy charge time, amongst other things.

‘These risks, and the increased cost, seem to have outweighed the benefits for most consumers. While many of these issues are improving electric cars are still a more costly alternative for many consumers. So even though demand has been low so far this is because consumers have not, as yet, seen a viable entry point.

‘However, when we talk about “consumers” it is important to recognise that there are different segments of consumers who have different, needs, wants and demands. There is evidence recently that demand has increased among some segments of the population so things may be changing.

‘However, as pressure grows for governments to reduce emissions it would seem likely that investment in the technology will increase substantially and there are positive network effects associated with increased charging infrastructure and increased visibility of electric cars on the road. What remains unclear, as with many technologies, is whether or not there are any hidden environmental costs to owning electric cars.’

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Professor Ben Lowe

Professor of Marketing

 

Ben Lowe is Professor of Marketing and Head of the Marketing research group at Kent Business School, University of Kent.

Ben’s primary research interests relate to consumer behaviour and consumer acceptance of innovations. Specifically, Ben’s research interests are in pricing innovations, consumer evaluations of introductory prices and promotions, diffusion and adoption of innovations, pioneer brand advantage, the Theory of Planned Behaviour, and the Technology Acceptance Model.

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