New research from network operator Electricity North West has found that 2% of British drivers currently own an electric vehicle (EV), with almost half (48%) stating that they are put off by upfront costs. The research also highlighted that only 6% of drivers intended to buy or lease an EV as their next car. Looking further ahead, only a third (34%) of those surveyed said they expected to own an EV by 2050 despite the expected ban on sales of new conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Commercial Strategy and Support Director at Electricity North West Paul Bircham said: “Our research suggests a large gulf in expectations of EV take up between government and industry compared to the reality among the consumers who are expected to buy them.”

Certainty in EV projections has been decreasing over time. In 2015, there was a gap between National Grid’s lower and upper bound Future Energy Scenarios estimates of approximately 3.5mn vehicles. In 2017, this range has nearly doubled to 7mn vehicles, indicating much lower certainty.

Nevertheless, EV uptake projections have been continually readjusted each year to higher estimates. OPEC has raised its EV outlook by 500% (2017), UKPN has increased uptake estimates in its region by 25% (2018) and BNEF forecasts show the market share to increase by 54% (2040). This is backed by BNEF figures showing that it has taken ~20 years to reach 1mn vehicles, but just 18 additional months to reach 2mn, 8 months to reach 3mn and 6 months to reach 4mn.

Despite uncertainty from consumers in switching to low emission vehicles, forecasters of uptake projections seem certain the rate of uptake will continue to increase. If true, this will have significant impacts on the GB electricity system and require innovative system developments to handle forecasted demand.

Our monthly publication Energy:2030 gives more insight into ways in which the energy system can adapt to handle EV uptake, as well as addressing the wider future of the transforming energy market. Contact us for a free three-month trial at, or take a first look on our website here.

Electricity North West