The Pros & Cons of Electric Cars for UK Driving Instructors

Whether we like it or not, electric cars are soon going to overtake conventional fossil fuel reliant vehicles as the standard go to choice for UK motorists.

In response to the environmental issues facing the world, the UK government has introduced a mandate for car manufacturers to end the sale of petrol and diesel models as soon as 2030, with hybrid cars to be phased out by 2035.

Inevitably, all driving instructors will therefore be forced to adopt electric cars over the coming decade. So what are the pros and cons of electric cars for driving instructors currently if you are thinking of making the jump early? We take a look…

What Do Learner Drivers Want?
Green motoring consultancy group New Automotive has predicted that as many as one in seven new cars purchased over the course of 2022 will be electric.

If this prophecy proves true, then there will have been more electric cars sold than diesels at the end of our current calendar year.

Many believe that a driving instructor’s choice of vehicle does have an impact on customer choice, with learner drivers often looking to learn in a vehicle that is roughly in line with the style of vehicle that they intend to have once they have passed their test. If this logic holds true, then we can assume that diesel vehicles will prove to be more off-putting for potential new customers than an electric motor.

What About Manual Licenses?
A survey conducted by road safety charity IAM Roadsmart has revealed that as many as 61% of 17-24 year olds are planning on applying for automatic only licenses instead of manual.

The traditional wisdom that this is due to automatic licenses being perceived as being easier to achieve may now be only partially true when one takes into consideration the significant number of motorists who are now looking to purchase electric vehicles.

As you will be aware, all electric vehicles on sale in the UK currently are automatic only. Toyota has recently patented technology to introduce a line of manual electric vehicles, but this would be done for driver experience reasons rather than necessity. It is also far from clear if Toyota will eventually roll out the technology onto the consumer market.

With such a high percentage of new learners aiming to achieve an automatic only UK license, driving instructors who choose an electric car may actually find that they are alienating a smaller percentage of the market than if they had opted for a manual vehicle.

Running on Empty
The time it takes for electric vehicles to recharge has long been cited by motorists as being one of biggest impediments to adoption. Indeed, with a standard 7Kw charging point it would take approximately eight hours to charge an electric vehicle to 100% from empty.

Such a significant span of time is sure to prove off putting for many driving instructors who complete a high daily mileage and crave maximum flexibility in terms of the hours they choose to work.

The majority of electric vehicle owners opt to utilise the ever improving quick recharge option whenever they find themselves low on energy. This will ordinarily permit the restoration of up to 80% of the total available battery range in less than 40 minutes which is sure to prove a far more manageable requirement for instructors than the full recharge option.

However, many instructors may fear not having the option to utilise either of these two options if they can’t find an available charging point in time. The government’s own Policy Exchange Think Tank recently stated that the roll out of electric charging points in the UK had fallen well behind requirements. At present there are just 25,000 charging points across the whole country, with the Competition and Markets Authority having stated that the figure will need to be ten times this if the country is to accommodate consumer demand for electric vehicles by 2030.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced a new regulation which will see all new homes and buildings in England being required to install electric charging points. This regulation was put into law at the start of 2022 and is expected to result in an additional 145,000 charging points being added to the UKs portfolio per year.

However, the Labour party has criticised the government on account of what it claims is an “appalling” geographical divide with there being more charging points available in London and the South East of England than the rest of England and Wales combined.

Driving instructors operating in these charging point rich regions may therefore currently find electric vehicles to be a far more practical option than instructors further north.

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