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Motorists' e-car interest revs up

But brake still on buying while prices high, driving range low

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Research shows that Britons are now keener than ever on e-car technology, but their willingness to ditch their fossil fuel motors for hybrids or battery vehicles is still being hindered by big rocks in the road.

UK vehicle valuation company Glass' recently commissioned a series of surveys designed to measure punters' e-car interest. In July 2010, only nine per cent of those questioned said they would consider buying a plug-in hybrid or a battery powered vehicle as their next car pruchase.

Skip forward a mere five months to December 2010, however, and the number of motorists willing to entertain an e-car purchase rocketed to 53 per cent of those surveyed.

There's a caveat: until respondents were told about the government's e-car purchase grant, only 36 per cent of folk said they'd consider an e-car as their next vehicle.

Still, a jump from even nine per cent to 36 per cent is impressive in such a short timeframe and with almost no e-cars on the road other than the comedic G-Whiz.

Clearly, the government's efforts to evangelise electric motoring are hitting home.

Or are they? This week, the Retail Motor Industry Federation warned that buyers are still being put off by e-cars' lack of range and high prices - even with the government grant - and the broader lack of a charging infrastructure.

RMIF Chief Executive Rob Foulston told The Times: "If the range of the average production electric vehicle is only 100 miles, then we are still a ling way off a mass-market consumer proposition."

Cost too is an issue. The Glass' survey found that of those punters unwilling to consider an e-car, 48 per cent said it wasn't the cost that was putting them off, but most if not all of the rest will have highlighted price as the biggest disincentive.

The government has earmarked £43m to give buyers up to £5000 off the price of of an e-car. ®

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