Man driving electric car
Ryan Darby

Ryan Darby

Ryan takes the lead on all things 'wordy'. With a sports media background, a true passion for cars, and a LOT of driving experience under his belt, he'll make sure you have all the information you need, when you need it.

Read time of 8 minutes.

Drivers over the age of 55 risk being left behind in a new era of electrification - what’s holding them back and what more can be done?

As the automotive world shifts towards a future of sustainable driving, the combustion engine is not the only thing at risk of being left behind.

We can exclusively reveal an alarmingly low percentage of elderly drivers are considering an electric vehicle (EV) as their next car lease.

In YouGov data obtained by Carparison Leasing, we can report that lease car drivers over the age 55+ are increasingly unlikely to switch to an EV.

We quizzed thousands of car lease customers and just 26% of those admitted that ‘going electric’ was the most important factor in the search for their next car.

In contrast, younger age brackets, in particular 33-44 year olds, were far more inclined to go green.

With the 2030 petrol and diesel ban on the horizon, we want to find out what is contributing to such a stark difference in appetite among different age brackets and what more can be done to increase that figure.

Perception vs reality

Rightly or wrongly, there is a perception that EVs and everything that comes with running one can revolve around the need for constant access to technology, be that inside the car or through mobile apps on our smartphones. Is this a fair reflection and what does this look like in reality?

A quick internet search underlines how some might find it daunting. You can quickly become lost in a world of charging and EV apps. There are many useful apps for electric car drivers, but how many does one need? 

It’s not uncommon for manufacturers to offer an in-house app that can control your everyday car functions or provide updates on servicing and maintenance. Beyond that, you’ve also got apps that can help locate nearby chargers or help pay for your latest top-up.

Andrew Till is the face behind the successful YouTube channel ‘Mr.EV’, where he documents living with an electric car. Till believes that despite the technological demands, drivers over the age of 55 could be the perfect target market, “I actually feel elderly people are perfect customers for EVs. It’s perhaps a sweeping generalisation, but they generally have the time to do the research, looking in manuals, downloading apps, and are even perhaps happier to spend time charging.”

Till continued and explained how progress is being made on making chargers more easily accessible, “Most charging can be done using contactless payments so for that reason, things aren’t too bad apart from the busyness at peak times.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Rob Heard, the Chair and Founder of the Older Drivers Forum, an organisation that specialises in helping elderly motorists stay on the road for longer in a safe and supportive manner.

Heard, along with Co-Lead Nigel Lloyd-Jones, quashed suggestions that new technology would be a deterrent, “We don’t think range anxiety or limitations of the charging infrastructure are such a concern for older drivers due to the lower mileages they drive, with a tendency to stick to familiar routes. In rural communities, there are also more possibilities of installing private chargers.”

“As we have discovered our older generation are much more digitally savvy than many given them credence, so engaging with new apps is no different to anyone else.”

Man charging the Mercedes-Benz EQA

Trust (or lack of) in public charging

One begins to wonder if this generation has lost faith in the UK’s charging infrastructure.

To explore this further, we’ve compared cities and towns in the UK by their population’s average age to see how they correlate with the quality of charging infrastructure available in their respective locations.

As per Zap Map, there are 38,982* charging devices located throughout the UK, as of the end of February, but this is far from an even spread across the country.

When looking into the average ages across the UK, a previous BBC study listed Blackpool (43.2), Worthing (43), Bournemouth (42.8), Southend (42.2) and Birkenhead (42.1) as having some of the oldest average aged populations in the UK.

Worthing, with a population of over 111,000 people, has just 7% (21) of the 304 charging devices located in the West Sussex region, according to Government statistics released in October 2022.

Accounting for roughly 12% of the total West Sussex population – an estimated 882,700 – it could be argued that the infrastructure in Worthing falls short relative to its population.

The trend continues as you venture into the North West, which has 2,439 charging devices. Yet, Blackpool, one of the oldest average age locations in the UK – and a popular tourist location – has just 42, which is a marginal percentage of the region’s charging infrastructure.

It’s a worrying trend that continues as you venture out of the five oldest average populations in the UK. Barnsley - where the average age is 40.9 - has just 60 of South Yorkshire’s 365 charging devices, the region’s lowest total. 

*Figures correct at the time of publication

What is being promised?

The UK government have already confirmed plans to rapidly increase the number of EV chargers available in time for the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030.

Following criticism about the speed in which the current infrastructure has been rolled out, the Government are reportedly aiming to have at least 300,000 chargers installed by 2030. A move that would represent a major step forward in this pursuit of electrification, as well as decreasing the importance currently placed on having off-street parking.

According to Zap Map, it is estimated there are over 400,000 home and workplace charging devices already installed. Bridging the gap between those two charging methods will be crucial in the Government’s plans for the widespread adoption of EVs.

Not only does public charging need to be accessible, but it also needs to be hassle free and painless, as Till went on to explain, “Some of the high-powered chargers can be incredibly difficult to plug in. I often worry about just how much strength and dexterity is required.”

Is the demand there to go green?

Amid rising concern for the future of our planet, some may hastily suggest that some could be taking a blasé attitude to the impending electrification of our roads. Does one need to make a change if there is a chance that they might not be affected during their lifetime?

However, not only does that sound incredibly unfair but also inaccurate. Throughout 2021 an impressive 62% of all Carparison’s electric car lease deals were taken out by customers over the age of 55.

In 2022, those figures dropped – but remained impressive in the context – with 50% of electric car and hybrid lease customers falling into the over-55 age bracket.

Looking ahead to the remainder of 2023, we’re poised to see our highest figure to date for electric and hybrid car lease deals taken out by drivers over the age of 55 at 69% at the time of writing.

Carparison's electric car lease deals for drivers over 55

If demand does remain high, questions need to be asked about the costs involved with driving an EV.

From those quizzed in our YouGov data, 53% of those who answered cited ‘value for money’ as the most positive experience from their previous leasing experience.

It is data that reflects well with a previous study from Statista, which found that the age group 55-65 have the third highest average annual disposable income in the UK – something that should - in theory - make EVs more attainable.

However, Heard and Lloyd-Jones stated financial costs might be the biggest barrier to entry. With financial priorities changing with age, their comments highlight the reality of the current price of EVs.

Even when browsing the more affordable end of the market there can be some eye-watering differences between EVs and their combustion engine alternative.

Prices for a brand new combustion engine powered Vauxhall Corsa start from £18,065 (inc.VAT) or £15,054 (ex.VAT – business customers only), meanwhile, a Vauxhall Corsa Electric will set you back at least £31,931 (inc.VAT) or £26,609** (ex.VAT – business customers only).

An electric car lease allows for a more affordable driving experience with the opportunity to spread that cost with competitive, fixed monthly payments designed to suit you, as well as negating the need for a large outright purchase.

While the headline figures may seem daunting, it is important to consider the whole life cost of an electric car.

Corparison’s Whole Life Cost Calculator offers customers greater insight into where savings can be made on factors like maintenance and charging costs over the course of your lease contract. 

**Vauxhall Corsa and Corsa Electric prices correct at the time of publication

What more needs to be done?

The green credentials of experienced and mature motorists appear to be as strong as younger age groups, but exceptions need to be made.

We can split these into three key considerations; making charging safe and accessible, reducing the cost of EVs and the ability to provide valuable and insightful vehicle training.

During our conversation with Heard and Lloyd-Jones, the pair raised a number of concerns around some road safety aspects of driving EVs without training. This includes the instant torque provided by EVs, or the risk of transitioning to a one-pedal driving system. Fears that come with driving a new EV could be significantly lowered with valuable and meaningful training.

Many new young drivers can be exposed to EVs almost instantly by learning to drive in an electric car. Why is that same level of access not made available for all ages?

Hyundai Kona Electric

Continued investment from the government will aid the ease of transition towards electrification and make EVs more accessible for those without the luxury of off-street parking.

With a large percentage of lease car customers quizzed during our YouGov survey citing value for money, there will be an onus on manufacturers to continuously bring down the overall cost to build an EV.

Making electric cars more affordable is a benefit that will transcend age groups and further increase the widespread adoption of pure electric cars among the general public.

According to Sky News, we may not see ‘parity with combustion engine prices’ until between 2025 and 2027.

Forecasts from BloombergNEF, as cited in The Guardian, explain that increased production lines and a decreasing cost of batteries will open up the opportunity for more affordable EVs in the years to come.

Despite the challenges, there should still be long-term hope that the future of electrification is one that is as fruitful for all groups, as Till summarises, “I feel EVs are still likely to appeal to older drivers, especially those that like gadgets, and can charge at home.

“The older people I know would be happy to use their savings to buy a comfortable, easy-to-drive car, and would especially enjoy the fanatical approach to saving money that comes from religiously charging off-peak at home.”

Perhaps what is most promising is that our initial survey suggested that appetite was decreasing among drivers over the age 55.

However, further research into the theories that suggest why has instead highlighted several reasons to be feeling optimistic.

There’s no denying that special considerations need to be made for older drivers, but every demographic poses a different challenge to the impending electrification of our roads.

If an electric car is not an attractive or accessible prospect for everyone, can they really be considered a success?

Find the electric car lease for you - whatever the age!