An increased awareness around the impacts of fossil-fuels on air quality has people thinking more about electric vehicles, a UK study has found.
One result of the stay-at-home measures to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus is the decline in transport-related pollution, both in terms of greenhouse gases and other emissions such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and PM2.5 particulates which have been linked with respiratory and other health issues.
Of note is a recent study published by Harvard scientists which links even small amounts of long-term exposure to fine particulate pollution with a higher incidence of death from Covid-19. Meanwhile, a new study shows that the improvement in air quality has more people thinking about buying an electric vehicle.
“Reducing emissions has been a hot topic and a clear government, business and personal target for several years now, but still the growth of electric vehicle (EV) ownership has been slow,” Alison Bell, marketing director at UK fleet service Venson Automotive Solutions which conducted the survey said in a statement .
“This is despite evidence that transport is responsible for 23% of global emissions, and driving petrol and diesel fuelled vehicles contributes 72% of the transport sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
Satellite images released by the European Space Agency (ESA) have highlighted the environmental reprieve afforded by the sudden drop in transport, with NO2 levels as well as greenhouses gases down significantly over a 10 day period in March.
Whether or not the environmental benefits of stay-at-home measures will have a lasting effect is a topic of great interest.
The new survey shows that the improvement in air quality has UK drivers reconsidering plans to own an electric vehicle. Of those surveyed, 45% said they are rethinking a switch to driving an EV, and a further 17% said they were even more certain they had made the right decision by switching to an EV.
Out of the 45%, 19% of those said their next fleet vehicle would be electric, and the remaining 26% said they would buy an EV within the next 5 years.
This is a significant change from Venson’s July 2019 survey which showed that while 41% surveyed were thinking about an EV, another 31% would not buy one for at least 10-15 years.
In addition to an uptick in personal and business EV buying intentions, the survey showed that the UK public would like to see more done by government to accelerate the EV transition after the Covid-19 crisis.
“This includes further investment in the charging infrastructure (62%), the introduction of more Clean Air Zones in major cities (38%) and new legislation that supports businesses to move to fully electric company car or commercial vehicle fleets in the next 5 years (38%),” the company stated regarding the report.
Bell believes the results of the report indicates a growing confidence in electric vehicles, particularly among fleet drivers, making a transition easier for fleet managers.
“In recent years we have seen the cost of electric vehicles fall, battery efficiency increase, and the network of both public and private charging points grow significantly. All of these steps have boosted consumer confidence in an EV future, however whilst ownership is increasing, we still have a long way to go,” Bell said in a statement.
“Having said that, fleet managers looking to introduce fully-electric fleets could find employees more open to the idea now they have seen the global benefits it could bring to the environment.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.