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New CarGurus research shows increasing buyer openness towards EVs

Posted by Beth Burke on April 12, 2021

Electric vehicles pose a big opportunity for the automotive industry, particularly in the United Kingdom where we’re seeing more rapid adoption compared to the US and Canadian markets. In February, CarGurus surveyed 1,005 car owners in the UK on their sentiments towards electric vehicles. Overall, two-thirds of consumers plan to own an electric vehicle in the next decade. While Tesla is the trusted leader in tech development, other brands have won higher purchase consideration among buyers.

In this emerging space, buyers are excited by the possibilities and less brand loyal so there are opportunities for more competitors to disrupt the market and for dealers to get ahead of the demand curve. Below we’ve highlighted four key takeaways as well as recommendations for dealerships on how to act on these evolving EV trends and preferences. To view the full results, download the CarGurus 2021 Electric Vehicle Report.

EV adoption is expected to triple in the next decade

We’re already starting to see increasing adoption of EVs among car owners, though perhaps not as fast as the UK legislation would suggest. Only 22% of car owners plan to own an EV within the next year. However, that number doubles to 44% among those who plan to own EVs within the next 5 years. Interest in EVs is also likely to surpass hybrids in the long-term, with only 46% of car owners planning to own a hybrid in the next 10 years, compared to 66% of car owners planning to own EVs in that same time frame.

Accessibility and tax incentives are the leading barriers to adoption

The leading barrier to adoption among car owners is accessibility of charging stations, followed closely by financial concerns. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say that making more charging stations widely available would be the most effective way to convince them to buy an EV, while 60% cite tax incentives and rebates. Another key concern when considering going electric? Fuel prices. More than half of respondents would be much more likely to consider EVs if fuel prices reach £3/litre.

Internal combustion engines still dominate, but EVs are becoming the primary household vehicles

Not surprisingly, many of those who already own alternative fuel vehicles still own internal combustion engine vehicles as well. Almost half (49%) of EV owners and 40% of hybrid owners still own petrol or diesel-powered vehicles. However, almost three-quarters of both EV and hybrid owners say they use their alternative fuel vehicles as their primary vehicles.

Brands like Audi and BMW are challenging Teslas’s leadership in the space

While Tesla has earned its reputation as being the most trusted brand to develop EV technology, Audi and BMW are more likely to be considered by buyers (45% and 44%, respectively). Overall, buyers seem to be open-minded, with nearly three-quarters of those interested in EVs saying they’re open to considering several brands when it comes time to go electric. Hatchbacks and SUVs/CUVs are in highest demand among buyers when it comes to most desired body styles.


Recommendations for dealerships:

  1. Make EVs visible alongside ICE-powered vehicles on your forecourt. You’ll be more likely to get the attention of potential buyers if they’re not hidden in the back.
  2. Consider acquiring a handful of used EVs. Though most would prefer to buy new, many planning to buy an EV would consider used (41%) or approved used (30%).
  3. Start investing in EV technology at your dealership. Add charging stations and equip your service bays to handle EVs properly.
  4. Teach your staff how to talk to buyers about EVs and tell them not to shy away from conversations about electric. Your buyer might not buy electric this time around, but chances are their next vehicle purchase (likely in 5-10 years) will be.


One thing is clear: embracing EVs in the coming months and years will be crucial to both addressing new government legislations and connecting with changing buyer preferences. At CarGurus, we’re making more resources available to buyers as they consider future alternative fuel purchases – including detailed reviews of the most popular EV models, advice around home charging, information on battery degradation, and lots more. Check out CarGurus EV buyer resources and stay tuned as we continue to dive into this key industry topic and what it means for our dealer partners.

Topics: CarGurus insights, electric vehicles, EVs