Government investigates messaging to encourage EV uptake

Electric vehicle switch to be supported as part of government's net-zero ambitions

Government investigates messaging to encourage EV uptake

The government has completed a trial investigating the best ways to encourage electric vehicle uptake.

The Department for Transport (DfT) worked with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and the Cabinet Office to run a behavioural trial to investigate messaging to best encourage electric vehicle uptake, supporting the government’s net-zero ambitions.

The trial commenced on 6 March 2020 and ran for 130 days, taking place during the government’s consultation on bringing forward the phase-out date for the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans (February to July 2020).

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The trial targeted people who had just renewed their car tax online by implementing a message that encouraged users to click through to the Go Ultra Low (GUL) website (shortly to be rebranded ‘Drive Zero’) which encourages electric vehicle purchase.

A total of eight messages were compared.

Content ranged from cost savings to environmental and air pollution benefits.

Messages were compared to see which produced the highest click-through rate to GUL.

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The most successful message related to the government’s consultation on ending the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles: “The Government are consulting on ending the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans by 2035 or earlier. Are you ready? Make your next car electric.”

The next most effective message was one that appealed to social norms: “Join the 6,000 new drivers every month who make the switch to an electric vehicle. Make your next car electric.”

The message around the number of deaths related to air pollution also performed well, but to a lesser extent than the previous two: “Between 28,000 and 36,000 people die every year as a result of air pollution. What you drive makes a difference. Make your next car electric.”

All messages contributed to increased traffic to GUL.

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The lowest click-through rate was produced by the message around rapid charge point availability: “Rapid charge points for electric vehicles are available at almost all motorway service stations in the UK. Make your next car electric.”

The second-lowest click-through rate was produced by the message around the ease of charging: “Charging your electric vehicle at home can be as easy as charging your phone overnight. Make your next car electric.”

The third unsuccessful message was around the cost per mile of using an electric vehicle: “Fully electric vehicles could cost from as little as 1p per mile to run – less than a quarter of the cost of the most fuel-efficient petrol or diesel vehicles. Make your next car electric.”

There were 4,272,526 users of the ‘tax your vehicle’ service over the 130 days that the trial ran for, suggesting an average of around 32,800 users a day.

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