On Friday 20th of September, thousands of towns and cities across the world filled with millions of school children, students and other people protesting to raise awareness of what has been called an impending climate disaster. In the wider media, plastics in the ocean, recycling and the impact of greenhouse gasses is omnipresent.
Being green has now become a matter of competition among people in the UK, according to a study by Hyundai. However, the same survey, and another recent study by price comparison site, finder.com, has stated that despite considering it, most people were still not planning to make the switch to a hybrid or plug-in car with their next vehicle purchase.
The Korean brand looked at people's attitudes towards all kinds of green issues – not just motoring – and found that the vast majority of people in the UK do have a good awareness and favourable attitudes.
For example, 70 per cent considered man-made climate change and ocean pollution as the biggest threat to humanity. The same proportion have tried to improve their energy efficiency in the last two years, whilst 80 per cent take pleasure in recycling.
People are increasingly looking at their peers and competing to at lease be seen to do more from the environment. A quarter try to out-do their neighbours in terms of recycling, with 13 per cent stating that they try to ensure their neighbours see just how much recycling they're doing. One-in-five has even had a neighbourly spat over perceived harm to the environment.
However, when it comes to EVs, PHEVs and hybrids, people are still hesitant.
People are fickle creatures and when faced with a question on a survey about something aspirational, the chances are they'll respond positively. Unfortunately, someone's favourable attitude doesn't necessarily translate to real-world action. In the same vein, whilst 60 per cent of people in the Hyundai survey would consider owning an EV or hybrid instead of a conventional car, the finder.com survey found that only 40 per cent were actually planning to do so.
This marries up with other surveys we've seen, such as one conducted by Ford where 73 per cent of Europeans (including a large UK sample) said that they'd 'one day' like to own an EV. But again, the percentage of people who actually plan to make a purchase is significantly lower, with research conducted by Motors.co.uk back in July finding that just 32 per cent of people are aiming to buy either a hybrid or EV as their next car - 10 per cent opting for an EV and 22 per cent a hybrid.
In the finder.com survey, the split between hybrids and EV preference was very similar to that found by Motors.co.uk, with 21 per cent of those planning to buy a green car opting for a hybrid powertrain, and 14 per cent an EV.
The same barriers to purchase keep cropping up, however, with Hyundai finding that for 58 per cent of people, cost is the biggest issue. This is followed by a perceived lack of charging points (54 per cent) and range anxiety (46 per cent). These figures marry up very closely to those that Go Ultra Low found in its own study about the normalisation of alternatively powered cars, and demonstrates the need for better information and education for consumers.
In fact, Hyundai's survey found that people would rather make significant personal lifestyle changes such as cutting back on beef and dairy, buying second hand clothes and furniture and even growing their own fruit and veg before they consider buying an electric or hybrid car.
We reckon that on this last point you can probably take the results with a pinch of environmentally-sound salt. As people realise that EVs and AFVs don't impact their lifestyle, and with competitive Brits trying to keep up with their eco-conscious neighbours, wide adoption will propagate quickly in the coming five years. Keeping up with the Greens may well be the new Keeping up with the Jones's.