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Target high mileage drivers first, says New Automotive report

The group of drivers most likely to be discouraged from switching to a battery electric vehicle – those that regularly drive long distances – are exactly the ones who we should encourage to switch first, according to a new report.

The New Automotive report, titled ‘Switch first, save fast: helping high mileage drivers change to EVs‘ reveals that the top 25% of  high mileage drivers are responsible for more emissions than the remaining 75%, while the top  10% of them are responsible for 29% of all miles driven.

On the positive side, these drivers are more likely to own fuel efficient cars, with models such as the Toyota Prius and Skoda Octavia being disproportionately popular among this group. However, the amount of miles driven mean they can be considered worse for the environment than an inefficient relic that covers only a few miles a week. 

New Automotives’s analyses finds that under a strategy in which high mileage drivers were persuaded to switch to electric vehicles first, targeted levels of annual emissions would be reached three to five years early.

The report also observes that selling more EVs is only part of the battle. Those EVs then need to be used to replace the miles driven by polluting vehicles in order to see real benefits.

In 2019, petrol and diesel cars consumed 26.6 million tonnes of oil – corresponding to an annual pump value of more than £40bn. Switching to electrified travel however, would cut those costs by over  80%, saving an average high mileage driver £1000 per year.

The report suggests ways in which high mileage drivers could be persuaded to make the switch. ZEV mandate credits, it is suggested, might encourage manufacturers to target higher mileage drivers. Another option – which would again be cost-neutral – is a feebate scheme in which those who are purchasing the most polluting vehicles pay a fee, and those who purchase the least polluting vehicles are given a rebate.

Other suggested policies, with a cost element to them include rebates, social leasing and scrappage schemes.

Ben Nelmes, CEO of New AutoMotive, said: ‘High mileage cars are the low hanging fruit of the UK’s transition to net zero. The cars that pollute the most are those that spend the most time on the road, and they need to be switched for electric cars if we want to see quick results of the EV transition. These drivers are bearing the brunt of fluctuating fuel prices and they produce the most emissions.

‘Supporting the switch to electric amongst higher mileage drivers would put money back into the hands of those most affected by high fuel prices and help free the UK from expensive imported oil.’

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