Four in ten consumers plan electric vehicle purchase as market moves into high gear

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EY Global Mobility Consumer Index 2021:

  • 41% of consumers surveyed plan to buy an electric vehicle (EV) as their next car, up 11 percentage points since November 2020
  • Environmental concern is the top driver for purchasing an EV
  • 66% of all consumers would be willing to pay a premium for an EV

Thursday, 19 August: Electric vehicle (EV) sales are expected to boom in the coming 12 months, according to the latest EY Global Mobility Consumer Index (MCI), a survey of more than 9,000 respondents from 13 countries. More than four in ten (41%) of those looking to buy a car in the next year say they will be buying an EV – an increase of 11 percentage points on November’s MCI – and nearly eight in ten (77%) of those who already own an EV say their next car purchase will also be an EV. Overall, 50% of those surveyed say they expect to buy a car (EV or combustion engine), up 17 percentage points increase from the November findings, with 65% saying that they would buy one in the next 12 months.        

The survey also reveals that concern about the environment is the top reason for buying an EV, with 78% also stating that the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened awareness and concerns about environmental issues. Fifty-three percent of those looking to buy an EV feel that it is their responsibility to reduce their personal environmental impact, and 54% feel that buying an EV is one way to achieve this.

Sixty-six percent of all consumers say they are willing to pay a premium for an EV, increasing to 91% among those who are looking to buy an EV as their next car. However, cost of ownership emerges as the top detractor for those who do not plan to buy an EV (50%). 

Connect the watts

While the EV market is set to accelerate, uncertainty around charging infrastructure looms, and features as a top three concern among those not looking to buy an EV (32%). Forty-seven percent of all respondents believe there are not enough charging points available for them to comfortably invest in an EV.   

Prospective EV buyers have similar concerns, with 38% stating that there are not enough charging points available. And for EV owners, charging locations (84%) and speed (78%) are cited as key concerns when it comes to charging.

Cars bounce back

While the MCI shows the number of journeys taken by consumers is expected to decline by 5% compared to pre-pandemic levels, traveling by public transport is least favoured among respondents (with uptake set to  decline by 11%), while the car emerges as the favoured mode of transport for consumers. Most respondents who own or intend to buy a car say that constant access to a personal car is important to them (56%), and that their safety and wellbeing is best served by a personal car (52%).

Additionally, while the survey shows non-work-related travel is expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels, work travel is expected to decline by 14%, representing a significant shift toward remote working.

Commenting on the global data and Irish market comparison, Julia Ann Corkery Director of Strategy, Transactions, Government & Infrastructure at EY Ireland said,

“The findings of our global mobility report highlight growing consumer preference for electric transport at an international level – this is reassuring to see with sustainable transport infrastructures being one of many crucial contributors to more sustainable societies across the world.

In terms of private cars purchased in 2021, while Ireland has seen some great growth in the adoption of alternative fuel types, other countries across Europe appear to be moving quicker. One of the front-runners in terms of EV adoption is Norway where at least one in every two vehicles purchased is a Battery Electric Vehicle. 

To encourage and accelerate EV adoption in Ireland there are some key areas where improvements can be made including:

  • Improving our charging infrastructure strategy to facilitate EV adoption across all regions in Ireland – a national strategy that covers locations from the most rural to those across towns and cities.
  • Considering new and alternative financial incentives and trade-in schemes offering significant reductions in sale price of new EVs, particularly relevant for the Irish market where three in four cars sold here currently are second hand.
  • Investing in increasing Ireland’s renewable energy generation and grid capacity to meet the future demand for electric vehicles.”


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