Our research indicates that current electric vehicle (EV) owners tend to represent the ‘innovator’ and ‘early adopter’ categories of the technology adoption curve.

The conditions necessary for EV adoption to go beyond these groups are not currently in place – drivers who represent the ‘early majority’ group lack the knowledge, information and confidence they need to be convinced that EVs are a good option.

The technology adoption curve shows how various groups of people adopt new ideas and technology.


As EVs are a relatively new technology, typical sources of trusted information, such as friends and family, are not always available. Getting a complete picture of the practicalities of buying and owning one requires diligence and research and often leaves drivers relying on car dealerships and online information sources.

People who currently opt for EVs tend to be those who are willing to seek out information and calculate their own data. They are also willing to adopt a new mindset around their choice of vehicle, based on charging and range rather than engine size and miles per gallon. However, even when they do their own research, they don’t always find out what they need to know and, as a result, owning an EV is often different to what they expected.

Non-EV owners tend to lack general knowledge about EVs. They do not know how much they cost to run, or how the charging process works. This lack of knowledge makes it difficult for them to understand and interpret any information they’re given about EVs. For example, they struggle to judge whether the number of charge points in a particular area is sufficient for the number of drivers who might want to charge their car at a particular time.

Making technical topics easy to understand

Tom Callow, EV Expert & Head of Corporate Communication at MyEnergi agrees: “Many [owners] want basic information about how EVs function and reassurance that what they’re reading is valid and accurate, usually from third party, trusted and objective sources. A lot of what we’re doing is trying to make technical topics easy to understand. Some of these devices are inherently complex, but that doesn’t mean the information communicated should be too.

“We need to find a way of speaking about charging speeds and range using people’s language rather than our own. The best work is being done looking at language like ‘time to charge to 100 miles range’ which feels like it could be the equivalent of the 0 to 60 test for speed. That isn’t based on any particular aspect of the car but it has become the default for people to understand pace.”

A woman looks at the charging cable for her electric car with puzzlement
As electric vehicles are a relatively new technology, greater public understanding of the area may need to occur before wider uptake is seen. Image: Praetorianphoto/iStock

Callow continues: “As the industry develops there is more information out there – such as the good work of EV Database – giving realistic range figures. However most manufacturers are still reluctant to have the same focus in their marketing materials. But ultimately they will need to help consumers understand all of this if they want to convince more people to get an EV.”

Standardising EV infrastructure and terminology

Laura Magee, Director of Strategic Planning at a british battery startup says: “Regarding the infrastructure, there will need to be some standardisation across the industry, both in terms of the type of sockets as well as the service cycle to charge. I have lost count of the number of apps I have had to download and share my personal data on to be able to charge my car!

“When thinking about the actual vehicle, consumers are unlikely to need to know the battery specification but the basics may be helpful,” adds Magee. “For instance when you talk about an internal combustion engine you might want to know the number of cylinders, the engine size, if is turbo charged, miles per gallon etc. A similar equivalent vocabulary will need to be more widely understood for EVs such as the battery capacity, range, efficiency, power, charging speeds, and increasingly the carbon footprint of the battery.”

Some of these devices are inherently complex, but that doesn’t mean the information communicated should be too.

Tom Callow, EV Expert & Head of Corporate Communication, MyEnergi


Until a solid foundation of background knowledge is built around EVs, drivers will need a lot of support and guidance to encourage them to choose an EV over an internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV). Information and content needs to be designed with the understanding that the baseline level of knowledge among users is likely to be very low.

That said, a balance needs to be struck between providing enough information to educate and reassure the user and giving so much detail that they become overwhelmed. Based on our research, using existing knowledge about ICEVs as a starting point is likely to be helpful, with the caveat that many aspects of driving and managing an EV are so different that introducing new concepts such as those related to types and speed of charging is unavoidable.

When designing content, products and services we recommend:

  1. Give drivers clear, easy to understand information about the basics of EVs: how they work, what charging entails and how they differ from ICEVs.

  2. Reference trusted sources of information, such as consumer and government websites, to reassure users that information is trustworthy.

  3. Provide specific information that users can relate back to their existing experiences, for example, talking about particular distances or journeys when discussing range and charging.

  4. Detail real-life, step-by-step examples of key activities that non-EV drivers are unfamiliar with, such as using a public charger.

  5. Provide clarity on the future of EVs, such as changes to the charging network and road tax rules.

  6. Help drivers to understand the total cost of EV ownership, including details about incentives and grants and running costs over the lifetime of the vehicle.

  7. Provide information about aspects of EV ownership such as insurance, servicing, repairs and what to do if the battery fails.

  8. Make it easy for users to compare one vehicle to another, taking into account that as well as performance and range, they are interested in practicalities such as the size of the boot and ability to tow.

Introduction to our research

Electric vehicles are directly aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy. The British government has committed to ending the sale of all new internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) by 2030 and all hybrid vehicles by 2035, meaning that the pressure is on to encourage motorists to adopt EVs.

54% of respondents to a YouGov survey, carried out in 2021 on behalf of Advanced Engineering UK, said they were unlikely to own an EV by 2030, with 41% citing the high purchase price as the reason. Interestingly, 56% of respondents said they would likely take up the offer of a like-for-like electric model of their current vehicle at no extra cost, indicating that people are open to the idea of switching their vehicles to a more environmentally friendly alternative, if the proper support is offered.


Fully electric cars make up a small proportion of the total number of cars currently registered in the UK


Just over half of survey respondents said they are unlikely to own an EV by 2030

In July 2022 the Department for Transport (DfT) announced it was scrapping the EV incentive scheme after eleven years — during which time the grant had shrunk from £5,000 to £1,500 (€5,970 to €1,791) — to focus on charging infrastructure and other types of EVs. Currently, EV owners are not required to pay vehicle excise duty (road tax) but plans are in place to introduce it for EVs in 2025.

There are currently around 735,000 fully electric cars on the road in the UK, representing approximately 2% of the total number of cars registered. 265,000 battery-electric cars were registered in 2022, a growth of 40% on 2021, however, there is clearly a long way to go before EVs claim anywhere near the market share of ICEVs.

Our process

We carried out desk research, a survey of drivers, and interviews with EV and non-EV owners to examine the effectiveness of the information and support that is available to electric vehicle owners.

As part of the interviews we asked participants to visit the following list of websites providing information about EVs to determine how well they could engage with and understand the information:

The aim of the research was to identify the barriers drivers experience when engaging with information about EVs and to determine how the information could be improved in order to increase and sustain EV ownership.

There is clearly a long way to go before EVs claim anywhere near the market share of ICEVs.

Research outcomes

Theme 1: General knowledge about EVs tends to be poor; understanding the practicalities of buying and owning an EV takes motivation and effort

A survey carried out in 2021 by the Northern Ireland Assembly indicated that non-EV owners tend to have unrealistically high expectations of EVs. They believe that they will be able to go 300 miles without charging, that they can fully charge the vehicle in under 30 minutes and that there is easy access to widely available public charging.

In 2020 the Transport Research Laboratory published a report stating that awareness and knowledge was one of the key objectives that needed to be met along the journey to EV adoption. Without adequate knowledge, motorists tend to default to the vehicles they are familiar with: ICEVs.

A detailed qualitative study carried out in 2021 identified that a lack of understanding about EVs causes people to distrust them and consider them inferior to ICEVs. Participants in the study considered EV technology to be underdeveloped and unsafe and they worried that batteries would be unreliable and degrade over time. At times, they confused electric vehicles with autonomous vehicles and some believed that EVs performed poorly on the road in comparison to ICEVs.


Over three quarters of respondents had previously considered buying an EV


However, a quarter of participants also said they felt unsure about whether an EV would be right for them

In our survey, a large proportion of the 110 respondents (78%) had considered buying an EV but had not bought one. When asked what prevented them from buying an EV, the majority cited typical concerns about range, cost and difficulties charging. However, 28% said they ‘struggled to compare the cost of running an EV to running a petrol/diesel car’ and a further 26% said they ‘felt unsure about whether an EV would be right for me,’ indicating that they lacked basic information that would help them to make a decision.

In the interviews, all of the non-EV owners spoke about having gaps in their knowledge about EVs – how much they cost to run, how they work and how to charge them.

“It does feel like [EVs are] new territory…I have no idea what it costs to ‘fill up’ [an EV] or what it would cost to have a charger at home. Is [home charging] going to be cheaper than taking it down and sticking it in Sainsbury’s carpark and charging it up there? How much is that?”

“I know that [EVs] run on rechargeable batteries, they have motors rather than engines. So you don’t have a manual gear or in fact, they don’t have a gear. I don’t mean this disparagingly, but it’s like a go kart you’re getting in, you switch it on, you put your foot on the pedal, and off you go. And they’re quieter, and they’re cleaner. And, that’s it really, that’s my level of knowledge.”

The EV owners made up for their lack of background knowledge by doing research, which in some cases meant piecing together a lot of different information to form a clear picture of what owning an EV would mean for them. One participant created a detailed spreadsheet of the costs of owning an EV and how that compared to public transport.

“Running costs, that was actually not going to be too dissimilar from the public transport costs we were paying, because when I factor in after the tax savings and the benefits, and the fact that we can charge our cars at work currently for free…that all added up to two, maybe three times what we currently pay for travel passes.”

Another EV owner spoke about having to work to gain the knowledge about EVs that other people didn’t have.

“I thought if I get myself familiar with everything in the system beforehand, it will make a bit more of an advantage for me when everybody starts to move over just to have that bit of understanding already as base knowledge. It’s been interesting and educational.”

A third EV owner struggled to gather the information she needed in order to fully understand whether owning an EV was right for her. She explained that even though she did look for information before buying, she didn’t understand what charging an EV involved and she hadn’t understood the difficulties that she might encounter with finding suitable chargers.

“[I looked for information] on the car lease website. And I spoke to one of the people there and then I went to a Nissan showroom and I spoke to them about it there. But I was quite naive going into it to be honest, in terms of thinking about the charging network.”

Her situation was different to the other participants in that she was the only one with a small child. She didn’t feel she had the time or energy to do the planning necessary to make having an EV feasible. She stated that, prior to owning an EV, it’s hard to know how to find the right information or to judge which information is accurate or relevant.

“I didn’t know what questions to ask. I don’t think [the information I got] was misleading. I think that they might have been slightly misleading on the range because it’s supposed to be 168 miles. There probably is a little asterisk there or some kind of caveat…you always take all that with a pinch of salt.”

Theme 2: A lack of background knowledge means that non-EV owners tend to struggle to understand online information

When non-EV owners visited the websites we tested, their lack of background knowledge about EVs meant that they couldn’t interpret or contextualise the information they were being given.

Zapmap’s UK-wide live map of electric car charging points. Image: Screengrab

“It looks like the UK is very well connected. But I don’t know how that relates to how many vehicle owners there are. In reality, how many other people are going to be using this at the same time? Or what’s the real understanding of need? Do 40,000 people in Rugby own electric vehicles? So I guess some sense of availability. Are they available to me right now? Can I book one?” (Participant 4)

BP Pulse pricing options. Image: Screengrab

“Obviously I’m very familiar with how you pay for fossil fuels. What I don’t know is how that’s done with EV charging. My assumption is that you would just turn up to a charging point, and you’d pay for it like you would at a petrol pump. … How could you build loyalty for charging? I don’t know. It’s a bit like if you’ve got a car for work you could say that you’re going to be able to give your members what they want from a network of chargers that are highly unlikely to be where people need them.” (Participant 7)

Some participants felt the information presented on the websites was confusing, vague, or made comparisons that weren’t meaningful to them.

The marketing language used for Renault’s electric vehicles content felt off-putting to some participants. Image: Screengrab

“‘Optimise the quality of your journey. Discover real driving pleasure.’ I hate those kinds of… what’s that mean? ‘Step into the future. A new way of experiencing driving’, that’s such rubbish. I hate reading things like that because it doesn’t tell you anything, does it? The other thing is that all the information I got apart from being very confusing, it’s so deliberately vague. I just want to know what the car does and what it is and what are the advantages, and they don’t say.” (Participant 6)

The technical jargon used by Jaguar had little meaning to some respondents. Image: Screengrab

“I’ve had trouble understanding exactly this kind of thing…charging speeds, seven kilowatts, 100% charge in 42 minutes, three pin [home sockets]. That doesn’t tell me anything. What’s a 50 kilowatt DC charger, or a 7 kilowatt AC public charger?” (Participant 6)

Respondents were quick to point out vague language. Image: Screengrab

“The wording is very important. You see that a lot in comparisons. ‘Better than, easier than’… than what? They never say what it is – ‘it’s much easier than before, it’s so much better now’. Compared to what?” (Participant 7)

Theme 3: Both EV and non-EV owners value clear, practical information that appears to be impartial and trustworthy

Typically, drivers depend on recommendations and information from family and friends when choosing a car, but the relative rarity of EVs mean that this source of support isn’t always available.

In our survey, when EV drivers were asked where they went for information to help them choose an EV, friends and family appeared near the bottom of the list, after other sources such as dealerships, car manufacturer’s websites, car magazines, consumer comparison websites and Zapmap.

Because of the lack of reliable information from peers, both EV owners and non-owners talked about needing objective, practical information from trusted sources.

“I think if someone trusted, like Which or any other consumer or car personality tried to lay it out in a coherent way, that would be immensely valuable because it otherwise puts the onus on me…I’m not hugely interested in cars. But I think there is room for someone to pull this key information off – are the grants still available to get a home charge point? What does the infrastructure really look like? What’s the projected cost of energy and running an electric vehicle over the next five years?” (Participant 4)

“I think a lot of the dealerships need to improve their information when they actually hand these cars over to people to explain this is the sort of charge you’re looking for, these are the websites you need to look at…I recommend using this app, that sort of thing.” (Participant 1)

When looking at the listed websites, participants valued information that was clear and easy to follow, that laid out details in a way they could understand.

Respondents found Octopus’s information about charging speeds simple to understand. Image: Screengrab

“This would be the kind of information I would want to know – what are the differences – and then I could plan properly. What I need to do, and if I was buying a charger for my home, what I would need to know. I’m not talking about having it plugged in overnight, to get and then would I get a full charge from it? Or what would I need to do?” (Participant 4)

Clear, concise information from Jaguar was well received. Image: Screengrab

“If I was about to buy a car I’d like to see this sort of thing… I’m aware of hybrids and all electrics. This is useful. As a customer, I’d be interested in seeing this…This sort of general information that you would get about the cost and the range and things? And then how you would manage it.” (Participant 9)

Zapmap’s use of data visualisation. Image: Screengrab

“Stats are very important…it helps me, gives me feedback.” (Participant 10)

Most participants questioned at least some of the information they were being given – they didn’t always trust that what was presented was accurate or truthful, particularly when it was associated with a particular brand. They wanted some extra reassurance that they were being presented with all the facts.

Renault’s line of electric vehicles. Image: Screengrab

“It looks like they have two models [of EV]. I would want some unbiased opinions about their car, like someone else is reviewing their cars. It’s not really enough for them to tell me how great they think their car is, I want to know from a trusted source like Which or somewhere else of how they’re performing.” (Participant 4)

“At this point, I’ve been thinking is this a ‘dot org’ sort of information page or is this maybe one network of chargers? I don’t know if there are different companies that provide charging stations – am I seeing every single charging point in the country or am I just seeing the ones that this company to owns? Is this sponsored? Or am I seeing just objective information?” (Participant 5)

Who owned each charging point in Zapmap’s live map was unclear to some users. Image: Screengrab

“This is quite important, but it’s got such a small font you can hardly see it. It’s got the capacity of the battery, it’s slightly lower than most cars. [It shows] charging times…I’d like to know how much it costs to charge with my tariffs…operating costs, as a comparison. I mean, if they had that on the website and maybe a third party review.” (Participant 10)

“Low cost of ownership. Really? Savings over £3,600 over three years. I’d like to see where that came from. It’s got an asterisk. That always warns me, if they put an asterisk it means it’s buried somewhere. They give you a grant. That’s good, up to £350 pounds. If they had some assistance in applying for a grant. That would be really, really good. Maybe [the] government could come up with a logo that manufacturers could put on their website saying, if you buy this car, you can be eligible for grants.” (Participant 10)

This research was conducted in partnership by William Joseph and Nightingale Design Research

The size that important information was presented at was problematic for some users of Renault’s site. Image: Screengrab
Respondents were wary of the ‘small print’ behind some of Jaguar’s content. Image: Screengrab