What’s new, now, and needed to continue the inspiring momentum of electric vehicle adoption by the modern driver?
We recently launched the EV Driver Survey report where we asked 15,000 EV drivers about their journey with renewable electricity
What the latest insights in this article include:
- What motivates people to make the switch to electric
- The top obstacles and opportunities impacting mass EV adoption
- Ways to leverage EV drivers’ commitment to cleaner transportation
- Looking to the future: what EV drivers are most excited for
- What’s needed to keep up with the pace at which the EV adoption is accelerating
This year, the Shell Recharge EV Driver Survey report came at a fascinating time. The release, just after we announced the transition into our new brand, gave us an opportunity to both reflect on our journey thus far and look forward to the future. An electric future that now spans the globe. It gave us a unique glimpse into the mind of our most valued resource - our EV drivers - at a time when we were being particularly introspective.
Traditionally, EV uptake was dominated by the hyper tech-savvy “early adopters”, who were willing to put up with inconvenience for the sake of their passion. However, today’s EV owners are more informed, better researched and as a result, may be less forgiving (and quite rightly so). With almost 15,000 respondents from five European countries, the EV Driver Survey report is the most comprehensive dataset of its kind. The results are optimistic, we have made leaps and bounds in charging technology and e-mobility in the last decade, but there is, of course, still room for improvement. The fact that so many people willingly gave their honest feedback shows us just how important this is and the impact such developments can have on the personal lives of EV drivers. Offering first-hand statistics, this “north star” research sheds light on people's drive, understanding and motivations for the switch to electric. On a deeper level, it delves into what drivers long for in terms of EV technology and evolution. What can we hope for in the future? Let’s hear from the people who are actually driving EVs.
Driving an EV, today
EV ownership is more than just transport, it’s a lifestyle choice. So it is not surprising that owning an EV alters people's general thoughts around transportation and mobility, after all, the world we live in was built for cars. What is more interesting, though, is one of the key characteristics of the modern EV driver is their deep engagement with their vehicle. Additionally, how driving electric affects other parts of their lives in significant and unforeseen ways. Even since 2021, there has been a shift in EV sentiment. It is amazing to see that 76% said their next vehicle will be a Battery Electric Vehicle, a 23% increase from last year. The change is partly being driven by driving experience. Although environmental concerns do continue to be an important reason for EV adoption, driving experience will play an even bigger role in encouraging new drivers to make the transition. The report shows that EVs are already better than ever before, but this profound engagement with how they feel will encourage manufacturers to focus on improving driving technology and experience further, which is a great prospect for drivers.
As per the survey, concerns around a “scattered experience” are most striking and inconvenient. The main irritants are slow charging, apps, and ongoing concerns about range. Drivers are often required to chop and change between many apps in order to take control of their driving, which is frustrating and even unmanageable. The average EV driver uses around four EV related apps, which are most commonly required for finding and managing charging. One in four reported that they use five+ apps, and 7% even use over ten! The issue is particularly acute in the UK, where people use the highest average number of apps, but the potentially frustrating complexity of multiple app usage is present everywhere. Drivers are ready to make changes and even sacrifices to make the driving of electric more seamless. The majority of drivers said they would rather pay slightly more to use just one card everywhere than pay a set monthly fee for unlimited charging. This data speaks to the need for a more user-friendly and centralised network that minimises stress and effort. Let’s hope we see companies moving into this space and streamlining the experience, so the onus and labour management is on operators rather than the drivers.
Charging Infrastructure, today
Our research shows that drivers are aware and invested in charging initiatives, and that they will respond well to the benefits of new charging technology. This year's survey shows people have a “big picture” view on what is needed to change charging infrastructure. 65% of you are willing to visit locations based on the availability of charging, therefore the growth of charging availability in destinations like shops and entertainment centres is a very interesting area. And for this reason, supply and demand economics will also benefit drivers. The more people want, the greater the need to produce more. 72% of drivers are therefore looking forward to mass adoption because it could lower purchasing and ownership costs of EVs.
However, the report shows that, after all these years, range anxiety is still a concern. Over half of drivers said increased battery range was the area where they most wanted to see improvements, this is closely followed by better charge point availability. Especially as we are recovering from a post covid world, it is not hard to see how travelling with an EV will not only become more popular, but more necessary. Conversely, if we asked traditional, fossil fuelled car drivers about how easy they find it to travel abroad, for example, we certainly wouldn’t see 40% of them telling us that refuelling is a problem in other countries. The majority of people we asked are concerned about the potential lack of charging in the future and the fragmented charging network. The people we asked are looking ahead and worrying about the charging rollout. 55% of drivers don’t believe that charging infrastructure will keep up with the pace of EV growth. The knock on effect will be low EV adoption and usage. This, in turn, will affect pricing, as already discussed. This is so important to drivers, problems around how far people can drive comes significantly higher than even the cost of purchasing a vehicle. Thankfully, range has continued to increase, with today’s ranges covering the vast majority of journey lengths. But you can’t deny the data. Whilst we need fast-paced action and charge point building, we also need full coverage networks across all types of locations. That is to say, many parts of the economy; retail, dining, entertainment and on-the-go destinations all have a role to play in plugging this gap.
Renewable energy solutions, today
The link between switching to electric and accelerating the energy transition is clear, past data has shown that opting for an EV is considered a sustainable choice. Among our modern EV drivers, there is high enthusiasm for charging, which goes hand-in-hand with sustainability. Just as drivers can see the big picture of charging requirements, our drivers demonstrate real engagement with the role that their choice of vehicle plays. We have always known that EV drivers associate their vehicle with environmental benefits, and these are a major reason for going electric. However, this year’s survey went that step further, by suggesting EV drivers believe that mass adoption is essential to driving the energy transition and that new technology is needed to unlock that potential. The most exciting prospect for drivers in terms of the future of EVs is the integration of charging with at-home renewables, such as solar. The report highlights that a staggering 39% already charge with entirely renewable energy. In Germany, this jumps to more than half, and interestingly, this is also the only country where worries about the grid are less common than renewable usage. As many as two-fifths of drivers say they would drive further to a charge point if they knew it had renewable electricity. And 79% are willing to schedule a charging session to prevent surges in energy demand. Meaning, many drivers acknowledge the importance and collective responsibility to use such power and as a consequence are willing to alter their charging habits to support this. Adoption and commitment to renewable energy is a true testament to the exciting impact e-mobility has on people and the environment.
Reading this report gives fresh insight into the EV driving and charging experience in the real world. EV drivers are demonstrating a thoughtful engagement and nuanced understanding of the issues around their charging journey. EV driving still does not yet offer the full, seamless and cohesive customer experience that people have come to expect from petrol and diesel cars. The recent report highlights the obstacles they continue to face on the road ahead, and how these insights are impacting the present and future of the EV experience. What is particularly exciting is that for the first time, EVs are beating petrol cars on how stylish people believe they are. This seemingly trivial finding demonstrates a flourishing industry, bringing more varied EVs to meet a broader range of needs, suggesting a movement to the mainstream.
And finally, our survey paints a picture of the modern EV driver, one that is environmentally conscious, passionate and invested in a sustainable future. People are willing to do their bit and get involved in the journey alongside industry providers, infrastructure operators, policymakers and movers and shakers. Which is a great thing, it holds us to account and drives us to do better. But it also means we have our work cut out if we want to make EV driving accessible in the real world. Therefore, where drivers express a need, collectively we must aim to fill that gap and make using renewable electricity part of our everyday life. Plug in and hold tight!
Source: EV Driver Survey 2022 | Shell Recharge Solutions