Electric Vehicles: What will persuade the 30% of households without off-street parking to adopt electric vehicles?

Published: 12 April 2021

Drivers need to replace their petrol and diesel cars with carbon-free alternatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change. Electric vehicles are one option, but very few cars on the road today are electric (<5%). Sales are rising but from a very low level. Uptake needs to spread beyond early adopters to the entire market.

This could be more challenging for some households than others. Around 30% of UK households have no access to off-street parking. This paper reports research exploring charging options for them.

We ran four focus groups, each with 10 drivers from the Birmingham area, none of whom had off-street parking. There was a mix of genders, ages, and occupations. We explored their knowledge and attitudes towards electric vehicles, then briefed them on BEVs, PHEVs, and charging.

We were able to test and develop three charging concepts:

1. On-street slow charging.
2. Overnight slow charging at a secure local hub, 5 or 2 minutes’ walk from home
3. Rapid charging at a hub, 10 minutes drive from home.

Key points

Researchers showed the drivers from the focus groups an outline of each concept, then discussed the pros and cons of each and asked for suggestions on how the concepts could be improved.

  • The 30% of UK households that do not have access to off-street parking will see electric vehicles as impractical until they have somewhere to charge them.
  • They may fear that on-street charging would make “parking wars” worse.
  • Nearby networks of rapid charging hubs could be a more popular option.