Thought Leadership

Europeans Are Open to Electric Vehicles, But They Still Aren’t Buying Them

October 26, 2021
Escalent | Europeans Are Open to EVs, But They Still Aren't Buying Them

Automakers’ One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Merchandising Electric Vehicles Won’t Increase Adoption

More than 80% of new-car buyers in Europe are open to battery electric vehicles (BEVs), but only 12% expect to actually purchase one as their next car.

These stark numbers, uncovered as part of our most recent EVForwardTM study, are disappointing for automakers around the world that have increasingly focused their marketing efforts on promoting electric vehicles (EVs) to drive adoption. As brands are beginning to finally catch up to consumer demands by offering EVs in form factors customers like, automakers are meeting barriers to adoption that typically don’t have anything to do with the vehicle itself.

The study examined car shoppers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, identifying six EV buyer personas that illustrate the key differences of opinion regarding EVs—including BEVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Among the findings are the top reasons these shoppers hesitate to purchase an EV:

  • Driving range, long-term battery life/replacement cost concerns and charging speed top the list of barriers to adoption among all EV shoppers, whereas the difference in price of a new EV compared with a traditional, petrol- or diesel-powered vehicle does not fall within the top five.
  • Only 15% of shoppers plan to use public charging exclusively for their EV, while the remaining 85% see a heavy role for home charging.
  • Nearly half of all consumers are unaware of any public charging points along their normal driving routes.

Rather than promote the availability of public chargers as a key difference maker, brands need to alleviate concerns more relevant to potential EV buyers, particularly regarding long-term battery durability, charging speed and access to home charging. However, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. The European market features complex interactions of attitudes, values, and household and charging circumstances. As a result, the gap from interest to adoption exists for a variety of reasons, from the products offered to education and support.

Our data show the opportunity is clear—European shoppers are showing an increasing appetite for EVs and waning concerns about EVs’ initial cost compared with traditional, petrol- and diesel-powered cars. Additionally, Tesla doesn’t dominate the European market in the same way as it does in the United States. This is good news for legacy automakers increasing investments in EV marketing and production. Now, they need to begin aggressively tailoring messages that address the biggest concerns among a diverse group of shoppers—something that’s easier said than done.

To learn more, join Mike Dovorany and Mark Carpenter for a webinar titled EVForward: Meet the Next Generation of EV Buyers in Europe on Wednesday, November 10 from 10 am to 10:45 am EDT (4 pm to 4:45 pm CET). The hosts will offer a closer look at likely EV shoppers, including how they differ from early adopters, what country-specific factors come into play and which buyers are 15.5 times more likely to seriously consider an EV as their next vehicle.


Mark Carpenter
Mark Carpenter
Managing Director, Europe

Mark is a managing director with Escalent's Automotive & Mobility practice and is based in Surrey, England. With over 30 years of creativity, experience, and passion for research combined with deep technical know-how, Mark leads business development in Europe for the automotive practice, in conjunction with Escalent’s global development strategy.

Mike Dovorany
Mike Dovorany

Mike is a former vice president with Escalent's Automotive & Mobility practice.