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.

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.

This report concludes there are five intermediate objectives that need to be met along the journey to EV adoption. Each of these objectives corresponds to a cluster of important barriers and motivators which influence EV adoption. They are:

  • Awareness & knowledge 

  • Financial factors: 

  • Charging infrastructure:

  • Vehile attributes

  • Consumer attitudes

The main hypothesis in this report is that a holistic approach to policy making is necessary to achieve large-scale EV adoption. This means that all of these five objectives need to be met. This report describes a set of 23 ideas with the highest potential for addressing these objectives and driving mass consumer EV adoption in the UK.


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