A new survey of Victorian drivers has found that more people would prefer to purchase a hybrid vehicle, over a petrol engined vehicle, for their next purchase, with a further third of drivers saying an all-electric vehicle would be their preferred choice.
The survey undertaken by toll road mangers EastLink found that around 40 per cent of motorists would prefer to buy a hybrid vehicle as their next vehicle, beating out petrol vehicles which were the preferred choice of around 32 per cent of motorists.
The results highlight the substantial shift that appears likely to occur in the passenger vehicle market, with a substantial proportion of petrol-fueled vehicle owners indicating they are keen to switch to an electric alternative.
“The EastLink survey is the world’s largest annual tracking study of motorists’ attitudes to self driving and driver assistance technologies, vehicle connectivity, vehicle electrification and road use charging – technologies which are expected to converge in cars of the future,” EastLink corporate affairs manager Doug Spencer-Roy said.
The survey comes as the sale of new petrol and diesel cars continue to plummet, while sales of electric and hybrid cars surge (albeit off a low base).
These figures are being replicated in many European countries, but while EV sales in those countries are growing to be substantial, the suspicion is that in Australia the lack of choice and high prices of EVs means more people are deciding to delay any new car purchase until the landscape changes.
The Eastlink survey showed strong awareness of battery electric vehicles, with just under 90 per cent of respondents indicating that they were aware of the option, with a smaller portion (around 55 per cent) indicating awareness of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Around a third of motorists said that an all-electric vehicle would be their preferred choice, but survey respondents cited purchase cost (72 per cent) and lack of charging facilities away from home (58 per cent) as the main barriers to making the switch to an all-electric vehicle.
Less than half of respondents (45 per cent) cited electric vehicle range as a barrier to purchasing an all-electric vehicle and less than a third of respondents said they thought it took too long to recharge an electric vehicle.
EastLink, which operates Victoria’s largest toll road network, undertakes an annual survey of Victorian drivers to measure driver preferences and what motorists are looking for in their next vehicle.
EastLink surveyed more than 22,000 Victorian motorists as part of the survey, which also found that 68 per cent of respondents want governments to provide additional incentives for purchasing electric vehicles.
Most respondents said that measures that would help lower the upfront cost of electric vehicles, and reductions in the price of annual vehicle registration, would help make it easier to make the switch to an electric vehicle.
Around half of respondents said they were able to park their vehicle in an off-street garage, with another third parking their vehicles in their driveway. These results reflected a preference of around two-thirds of respondents that said they would prefer to recharge an electric vehicle at home.
Around one-in-six respondents said that they would prefer to take their vehicle to a dedicated location where vehicle chargers have been provided.
Survey respondents that were looking further into the future for their next vehicle purchase were more likely to prefer an electric vehicle, indicating that many drivers are likely to have an understanding of the falling costs of electric vehicles and the growing network of recharging infrastructure.
The survey also found that drivers are becoming more enthusiastic about the use of driver assistance technologies, including collision warnings, lane departure warnings, cruise control and emergency braking technologies.
“This is because the latest driver assistance functions will reduce the likelihood of collisions, as well as reduce the severity of collisions,” Spencer-Roy said.
“These survey results support EastLink’s expectation that use of the latest driver assistance functions will become commonplace long before we see lots of fully autonomous vehicles on our roads.”
However, drivers were increasingly sceptical about the prospect of switching to a fully automated vehicle, indicating that many may require further assurances about the performance and safety of self-driving vehicles before making the switch.
Around a quarter of respondents said that they would like their next vehicle to by a fully self-driving vehicle, which EastLink noted was a decline from around 30 per cent preference measured in the 2017 survey with EastLink suggested that the ‘hype’ around driverless vehicles may have waned.
Michael Mazengarb is a journalist with RenewEconomy, based in Sydney. Before joining RenewEconomy, Michael worked in the renewable energy sector for more than a decade.