Driving and accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles in the UK

Published: Nov 2020

ISBN: 978-1-913246-50-1

Author: Carolin Reiner (BIT), George Beard, Toby Park (BIT) and Neale Kinnear

Pages: 239

Reference: PPR967


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In 2018, transport accounted for 28% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the UK; more than any other sector on its own. The large-scale adoption of EVs is therefore a key pillar of the government’s efforts to create a carbon neutral economy by 2050 and the government’s consultation proposes for all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2035 or earlier.

Five intermediate objectives that need to be met along the journey to EV adoption were identified. The report's main hypothesis is that a holistic approach to policy making is necessary to achieve large-scale EV adoption. This means that all of five objectives need to be met. From an initial 160+ suggestions, the research highlights a set of 23 ideas with the highest potential for addressing these objectives and driving EV adoption thereafter.

The Department for Transport’s (DfT) Social and Behavioural Research Team and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) commissioned the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) and the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to develop, research, and present a range of comprehensive policy measures that could address the main barriers and harness the right motivations to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK. The focus of this work was on passenger cars and other light-duty vehicles, among private and commercial buyers, including public sector procurement.

The Behavioural Insights Team and TRL applied a behavioural lens to the analysis throughout this research, which means that the ideas were developed and appraised with human behaviour and behavioural insights at their centre.

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