Electric car: why do 1 in 3 owners switch to a thermal car?

The electric mobility revolution seems to be stalling. As automakers and governments push hard toward the adoption of electric cars, a recent study by McKinsey & Company reveals that almost a third of electric car owners plan to return to thermal engines for their next purchase.

This study, carried out among 30,000 participants in 15 countries (representing 80% of global car sales) highlights the challenges facing the transition to electric.

Despite the undeniable advantages of these vehicles (quiet operation, instant performance, energy cost), many owners seem disappointed with their overall experience.

Autonomy, recharging and price: the three big issues

Among the main obstacles to the sustainable adoption of electric vehicles the state of charging infrastructure figure at the top. Only 9% of respondents believe that the number of public terminals is sufficient. This shortage of charging points creates real anxiety among drivers, who fear running out of energy while traveling. The inconsistent reliability of existing terminals adds an additional layer of frustration for users.

Against all expectations, autonomy remains a daily problem for users of electric vehicles if the results of the study are to be believed. Contrary to popular belief that drivers gradually get used to the limited range of electric vehicles, the study reveals that Consumer expectations continue to rise.

In 2022, the minimum desired range was 435 km, while in 2024 it increased to 469 km on average. These increased requirements highlight the need to develop more efficient batteries and optimize the energy management of electric vehicles.

Finally, the cost of an electric vehicle remains one of the biggest obstacles to their adoptionand this despite the financial incentives and purchasing bonuses put in place by governments.

High purchase prices dissuade some consumers from taking the plunge into electric vehicles. Although savings on fuel, insurance and maintenance can offset these extra costs in the long run, the initial investment remains a psychological drag for many.

The rise of hybrid and plug-in hybrid

If the study highlights a certain disenchantment with 100% electric vehicles, it also highlights the growing interest of consumers in electrified engines.

So, 38% of non-electric vehicle owners worldwide are considering switching to hybrid or plug-in hybrid for their next purchase, a stable trend compared to 2022. These technologies, which combine the advantages of thermal and electric engines, seem to offer an attractive compromise for many motorists.

However, the hybrid especially appeals to companies which amortize their investment more quickly. Numerous studies show that this engine is neither more ecological nor more economical for heavy drivers. In fact, the addition of batteries increases the weight of the vehicle to be moved when it is running with its thermal engine. And consume more for the same journey.

This study nevertheless reflects consumers’ reluctance towards the rise of electric cars. In France, after a boom in 2023, the year 2024 risks being more difficult, due in particular to a less generous ecological bonus as well as the new tax on the import of models from China.

  • 29% of electric car owners plan to return to thermal
  • Insufficient charging infrastructure and growing range expectations are the main obstacles
  • Hybrids and plug-in hybrids are attracting more and more consumers

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