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Are electric vehicles an attractive proposition for tradespeople in 2023?

by | 03/04/2023

There is a lot of noise being made regarding electric vehicles, well not from the vehicle itself obviously, more so from the UK press and most notably manufacturers seeking buyers of their fancy new vehicles. Setting aside the arguments over whether these vehicles are actually any better for the planet or not (this very much depends on who you listen to, read, or believe!), we were motivated to try to gauge interest and acceptability in these vehicles through the lens of our favourite tradespeople.

We utilised our own engaged community of tradespeople to assist with this assignment, and as anticipated got a brilliant response rate that allows us to summarise some of their key thoughts here. We received over 250 responses within 48 hours, evidence of the engagement levels we have created with this unique audience.

Electric vehicle

Current ownership and future intentions

Fewer than 1 in 20 of our tradespeople own an EV (electric / electric hybrid vehicles) for business purposes, with around 1 in 10 actively considering or about to purchase one. Small fry overall, but similar proportions overall to the consumer market (where <5% of new car sales are electric/ hybrid), so evidence the trade is not falling behind here. However, the overwhelming majority (c. 9 in 10) are not considering currently, or in the near future

Barriers to purchase

Despite some warmth to ownership and purchase, 99% of tradespeople identify at least one issue with EV ownership, a clear indicator of the challenge ahead. Staggeringly, this audience identify 3.3 barriers each on average; tradespeople have a lot of concerns over EV ownership. Purchase cost (73%) and range anxiety (59%) lead these barriers to adoption followed by worries regarding the charging network (51%) and battery lifespan (46%).

Even amongst businesses with high degrees of confidence for the future of their business, on average 2.9 barriers are identified, rising to 3.7 for those with low levels of confidence, showing that these apprehensions are sector wide.

On average, these tradespeople are covering over 530 business miles per week (the majority in just one vehicle), so it is unsurprising that range anxiety combined with poor infrastructure (75% selected one or both of these options) is so top of mind in their concerns.

Wider sector research on EV’s

Research from Direct Line business insurance states that over eight in 10 tradespeople (83%) either own or would like to invest in an electric vehicle in the future. This is significantly more than the wider motoring public – just 54% of whom either own or wish to switch to an electric model.

It goes on to claim that tradespeople who want to make the switch are interested in the practical benefits of electric vehicles namely the cost savings on fuel (21%), with just 15% wanting to switch for environmental reasons.

Richard Mace commented “If this level of future intention is anywhere near reality, then there are many, many barriers to overcome to reassure the trade professional that electric is the technology for them. In our opinion, we still seem a good few years away from the tipping point on this. The vehicle isn’t just a means of getting to site, and to the merchants, it’s an office space, rest room and storage facility, so our tradespeople need to have utmost confidence in its reliability and capacity to get the job done. As things stand, there is too much wariness around EV takeup.”

EV research with homeowners?

This delve into professional attitudes was certainly in part motivated by a recent homeowner facing research project we undertook on behalf of a supplier of electric vehicle chargers. As part of this, we convened a series of face to face focus groups with both current owners and potential owners of electric vehicles to understand the market in more detail and determine the features and benefits that resonate most when researching and purchasing chargers. These were highly absorbing sessions with lots of interaction, exercises, and products to reviews, which always boosts engagement levels and maximises the insight we can extract. Kudos to the client who produced the most impressive piece of research stimulus I have ever seen! The client testimonial can be seen here:

“Eureka Research were great to work with on our project in the e-mobility sector. They provided much needed flexibility with the scope of the project and our tight time scales. Would highly recommend and plan to work with them again in the future!”

Notes: Our survey of 267 tradespeople was undertaken using an online methodology and includes a wide range of trade types including builders, decorators, plumbers, heating engineers, etc. This data was from a larger research piece we undertook during 2022.

If you would like to see more of our previous in-depth research with the trade, you can browse much more completely for free here

Follow this link to find out more about our own engaged community of tradespeople.



Eureka! Research

6 Parkside Court | Greenhough Road
Lichfield | Staffordshire | WS13 7AU


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