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Air quality high on agenda as 97% notice improvement

The overwhelming majority of drivers have noticed a positive improvement in local #air quality according to a survey into driver attitudes and behaviours during lockdown. The survey, carried out by nationwide #electric car charge point installer Smart Home Charge, found almost all respondents noticed less congestion and noise pollution (99.3% and 88.3% respectively), with 98.3% agreeing that electric cars would help reduce noise pollution if they replaced petrol or diesel vehicles. When asked about air quality, 72.5% of respondents said this was ‘very important’ to them and 97% said the lockdown has had a positive effect on local air quality.

In addition, 68.4% pinpointed petrol/diesel vehicles and too many cars on the road as having the most negative impact on local air quality. In response, 66% of those surveyed said they would be willing to get a fully electric car when asked what they would most likely do to improve local air quality. Other options included walking or cycling more (14.4%), car sharing (2.1%), avoid driving into town (3.1%) and getting a plug in hybrid (7.6%). Danny Morgan of Smart Home Charge explained that the lockdown had given people the chance to see what zero emissions vehicles could bring to their local area. ‘Air quality and noise pollution have always been quite abstract things to discuss.’ he said. ‘We know we want less pollution, but we have never really experienced what it would be like in our towns and cities. Plus, driving is part of the fabric of everyday life, so we don’t always make the connection between the two. ‘However, one positive from the lockdown has meant far fewer cars on the road and, for the first time in a long time, people have experienced the benefits of quieter roads and less pollution from car tailpipes. ‘Clearly, electric cars won’t solve the congestion problems we have, but the knock-on effect has been people are more willing to consider a fully electric car because their priorities have changed – better air quality and less noise are both something to strive for and EVs can help with that.’ Over 50% of survey respondents also said they would be more likely to buy a new or used electric vehicle in the next year if the government introduced a scrappage scheme for petrol and diesel cars. Rumours have been circulating that the government is poised to announce a scrappage scheme to help the UK’s struggling automotive industry and encourage drivers to switch to zero emission vehicles. The survey found that 50.4% of drivers said they would either ‘definitely’ or be ‘more likely’ to buy a new or used EV within the next year if such a scrappage scheme was rolled out. Just under 10% said the scheme would not encourage them to make the switch to an electric car and 7.3% said they would prefer to lease or rent an electric car rather than buy one. The survey also explored driving attitudes and behaviours to see what changes had occurred during lockdown. Some 73.5% of respondents said their driving lifestyle had changed ‘dramatically’ since lockdown began in March, but only 39.2% said this would continue after lockdown and 31.1% suggested their habits would revert to pre-lockdown behaviour. Although, 26% said they would try to drive less often and another 19.2% would walk or cycle into town or to the shops. Danny added that a scrappage scheme would give people the extra push they need to switch to an electric car. ‘Our survey has shown that most people understand how petrol and diesel cars can negatively impact their local environment. It also shows many people are willing to do something about it, including the 66% of respondents who wanted to switch to an EV.  ‘But buying any brand new or used car can be a significant investment, so a government contribution in the form of a scrappage scheme to encourage electric car ownership would not only be a boost to the UK automotive industry but would also be a big step in helping this country achieve its net-zero carbon economy target by 2050.’

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