Identifying patterns and factors affecting the adoption of electric vehicles across the UK

Electric vehicle at charging station, photo by scharfsinn86 J&K/Adobe Stock

scharfsinn86/Adobe Stock

Researchers examined patterns of electric vehicles adoption across the country to help locate areas where investment in electric repair and servicing skills is needed.

What is the issue?

Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. Halfords, a UK based provider of motoring and cycling products and services, reported a 78 per cent increase in hybrid cars coming into its garages in the first half of 2020, alongside a 74 per cent increase in Teslas. According to new research, different parts of the country are adopting electric vehicles at dramatically contrasting rates, suggesting that an electric mobility divide or ‘green gap’ may open up, with certain regions able to enjoy the benefits of low emission transport sooner than others.

How did we help?

RAND Europe was commissioned by Halfords as part of their Electric Cities campaign to understand the relationship between geographic location and adoption rates of electric and hybrid vehicles. The research aimed to cast light on patterns of electric vehicles adoption across the country, in order to help locate areas where investment in electric repair and servicing skills is needed. By analysing data, our researchers were able to:

  • Create a league table showing the variation in Electric Share across at least twenty medium to large sized cities spread across the UK.
  • Plot the historical evolution of Electric Share in the top, middle and lowest ranked cities alongside the overall UK average.
  • Provide commentary to explain the variation.

The report explored three factors that could help explain the variation in the Electric Share between cities: household income; provision of charging points; and, differences in attitudes to the environment. Identifying factors that might contribute to any disparities could incentivise cities with a low electric share to introduce policy measures to increase their share.

What did we find?

  • The highest levels of electric vehicle ownership were found in London boroughs, with rates around twice the national average in Barnet and Wandsworth.
  • Outside the capital, the highest rates for electric vehicles were found in Edinburgh and Brighton.
  • Kingston upon Hull, Peterborough and Plymouth have the lowest rates of adoption.
  • There is a positive correlation between the number of electric vehicle charging points and electric vehicle share, suggesting that local authorities should be redoubling their efforts to invest in charging infrastructure if they are to drive more widespread adoption.
  • There is a weak positive correlation between average household income and electric vehicle adoption.