MILLIONS of drivers are being put off owning an electric car because of myths about running one, according to Dorset-based insurer LV=.

The County Gates-based company says 27 per cent of drivers are considering making a switch to an electric car, but 18 per cent say they will never buy one.

It said concerns about batteries, cost and range were among the biggest barriers.

LV=, which recently launched the market’s first car insurance product developed solely for electric cars, found 70 per cent of drivers were unaware that petrol cars are due to be phased out by 2040.

Martin Milliner, claims director at LV= General Insurance, said: “There are over 200,000 plug-in electric cars on UK roads, but our research proves there is still a huge amount of confusion about what owning one actually means. Moving to an electric car will mean a change of habit for drivers, but there are several benefits to making the switch, including lower fuel costs and reducing our impact on the environment.

“The myths surrounding electric cars will ultimately impact a driver’s decision to purchase one. Tackling air pollution and emissions are key issues on the government’s agenda and eventually, as new diesel and petrol vehicles are banned in the UK from 2040. Industry-wide we need to tackle these misconceptions and help people embrace the move to electric.”

The research found:

  • Fifty-five per cent of drivers believed electric cars were less powerful, even though an electric car can generate power quicker and most can accelerate quicker than a petrol or diesel equivalent.
  • Twelve per cent did not believe electric cars could be driven on a motorway.
  • Eighteen per cent did not think they could wash an electric car in a car wash.
  • Twelve per cent thought electric cars could not be driven in the rain, when in fact the cars and charges are weatherproof.
  • Almost a quarter believed batteries needed to be replaced every five years, when in fact they should last 10-20 years, and many carry lengthy warranties.
  • Six per cent feared the cars were dangerous or there was a risk of electrocution.
  • Forty-five per cent did not think the cars could be used for long journeys. Most are capable of around 100 miles before recharging, while some newer models can do close to 200 miles.
  • A quarter of drivers thought the cars were expensive to run – but LV= found most overestimated the running costs by at least 100 per cent. According to the Energy Savings Trust, an electric car on full charge can run for up to 100 miles at a cost of £4-£6, compared with £13-£16 for petrol or diesel. They are also exempt from road tax sand London’s congestion charge.
  • Forty per cent were unaware of the incentives to go electric, which include the government’s “plug-in grant” which is paid to dealers and manufacturers to cut the cost of low emission vehicles by up to £3,500.
  • Seventy per cent did not realise petrol cars are to be banned by 2040, although the government is under pressure to bring the date forward to 2032.