Getting to grips with the fear of EVs

October 10, 2022

Like them or loathe them, there’s no escaping the fact that electric cars are the future in one form or another.

Olly Jones

Whether consumers make a gradual transition from conventionally-powered vehicles to electric cars via mild or plug-in hybrid technology is entirely up to each individual. But it is a transition we will all need to make at some stage.

And, of course, like any change in life, it is being met with numerous concerns.

We hope we can address some of those fears after meeting up with Olly Jones, co-founder and managing director at elmo, at this year’s British Motor Show.

Elmo is a purely electric leasing company that offers cars on a subscription basis with no over-complicated long-term contracts. If the customer is happy, they stick with it. If not, they cancel. It’s that simple.

Olly explained: “Elmo is on a mission to make switching as easy as possible by offering maximum flexibility. Applications are approved in a day and delivery occurs about a week later. Unlike traditional leasing, there is no deposit to pay and you keep the car as long as you want it. Just give 30 days’ notice and you can swap to another car or cancel completely.

“The subscription package includes everything apart from insurance so you get breakdown cover and tyres etc. And we have an extensive choice of cars from Tesla and the Jaguar iPace to VWs and Fiats.”

Elmo has offices in London but is a nationwide company that Olly formed with a friend in 2019. We also managed to bombard him during a quick-fire Q&A session about the day-to-day concerns and fears of EV driving.

What is the biggest fear of people moving to an EV?

“When we talk to people interested in switching the biggest fear is often either range anxiety or worries around charging, specifically public charging.

“Range anxiety we try to explain is something that, for the vast majority, isn’t something they need to worry about. For most people, nearly all electric cars will comfortably do their daily commute all-year-round, especially if they can charge at home. We tell people it’s the same as driving an ICE car in that respect – you wouldn’t run out of petrol, so you plan your journey to make sure you don’t run out of electricity. It’s just adjusting your mindset slightly.

“To those who can’t charge at home, we explain there are lots of public charging options available and suggest they check sites like Zap Map to see the nearest charge points in their area. The network is constantly growing, too.”

How do you reassure people concerned about range anxiety?

“As a first step, we encourage them to take our suitability tool (which walks them through which electric cars could best suit their lifestyle after asking some questions about their driving habits). One of the key purposes of this is helping people realise that most people don’t travel very far on a regular basis (the UK average journey is less than 50 miles per day); and it’s only on occasion that most people make longer journeys.

“This helps demonstrate that that the vast majority of electric cars are more than capable of handling most people’s regular journeys all year round. It’s really about making people actually reflect on how much driving they do and then giving them the confidence to try an electric car that should fit that lifestyle.

“Our flexible subscription model then allows them to test it out in the real world with the security of knowing that they can hand it back if it doesn’t work out.”

Are people concerned that it takes too long to charge an EV?

“Not as much as you would think. Most people who don’t yet drive an electric car are more concerned with how and where to charge, the time taken is not so much a factor.

“One of the things we try to encourage with our customers is a change of mindset away from the ‘petrol station mentality’ of filling up from empty to full. It’s much better practice with an electric car to top up a bit such as for 15-20 minutes while you pop into the supermarket or a gym class. You only really want to charge up to full when you’re taking a long journey.

“In any case, there are rapid chargers being installed all the time which can make getting a full charge possible in 15 minutes or so possible, depending on the size of the battery, the power of the rapid charge point and the ability of the car to accept that power.

“So, for those of us who will struggle to change from the petrol station mindset, we are being increasingly well-catered for. According to ZapMap, there were 6,236 rapid and ultra-rapid chargers in the UK in August (a 75 per cent per cent increase from the previous August).

Are you seeing concerns due to the increase in energy prices?

“The recent energy price rises have increased the running costs of electric cars. Alongside a general increase in the cost of living, this will impact the disposable income of electric car drivers.

“However, even with the latest price rises, public charging is still cheaper than filling up a petrol or diesel car, though, admittedly, the gap has narrowed. What this does is place an added importance on the benefits of charging at home or at work (for those who are lucky enough to be able to) where the cost to charge will be significantly cheaper.”

What is being done to make all the different charging stations compatible. Do you still need a dozen apps or can you pay via a debit/credit card like you would for fuel?

“The UK market has been crying out for an “interoperable solution” for some time – this essentially means a way that drivers can access, pay for and track their charging in a single way. At the moment, you often need different apps or cards to use different networks.

“For most people, it’s not a huge issue because once they’ve worked out how to charge on their regular journeys then they’re usually well set. But, for making people comfortable with switching and ultimately creating a better experience for EV drivers an interoperable solution will be a great step. There are now a few options on the market and, at elmo, we’ve been working with industry partners on a charging solution which we hope to release later in 2022.”

What feedback have you had from customers who were scared to take the leap, but were absolutely delighted they did?

“Our data shows that most people who make the switch don’t go back. This is a testament to how nice electric cars are to drive – the feedback we get most often is ‘surprise’ at how smooth and easy the driving experience is; people who can charge at home also rave about the convenience of it, “it’s like charging my phone overnight while I sleep”.

“For the small proportion who do, unfortunately, switch back, it is usually with great reluctance and because they don’t have sufficient access to charging yet.

Are people worried about battery life on vehicles?

“We do see this come up occasionally, but battery technology is constantly improving. Even as little as 10 years ago, electric car batteries would have lost over 40 per cent of their original max state of charge. Nowadays, that’s drastically reduced, with new batteries expected to only lose 10-15 per cent of their max state of charge after thousands of charge cycles.

“The National Grid report that new EV batteries have a lifespan of 15-20 years, and then a second life beyond, with most manufacturers giving lengthy eight-year warranties. Some say they’ll outlive the car itself!

“Of course, if you choose to subscribe to an electric car, it’s not something you have to worry about!”

What is the most popular subscription car right now?

“Popularity is a hard thing to define with electric cars as there is no such thing as the ‘best’ electric car, just ‘best for you’. Many subscribers love the Renault ZOE for its attractive price point and excellent range (nearly 200 miles). But for customers who need a bit more space, MG models like the ZS and 5 or the Peugeot e2008 or Vauxhall Mokka-e fly off the shelves. For customers with deeper pockets, we’ve seen huge demand for the Polestar 2, Tesla Model 3 and Y and the Audi e-tron.”

Is the number of customers coming to elmo increasing on a regular basis?

“We actually have to keep pinching ourselves at the rate of growth. Adoption of EVs is growing across the UK market in general, but subscriptions seem to really meet this growing customer need for flexibility when they are making the switch and are perhaps unsure if an electric car will work for them.

“More generally I think that, in a post-Covid world and a world of Netflix and Spotify, modern consumers have come to expect that flexibility and convenient ease of access which traditional car ownership models don’t provide. “

How short can a subscription at elmo be?

“Subscribers can end their contract at any point by giving 30 days’ notice. We offer this flexibility to help people feel comfortable with making the switch, but we aim to be price competitive with a long-term lease so what we see is that subscribers stay with us for 9-12 months and sometimes even longer.”

For more information about Elmo, visit https://elmodrive.com/

 

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