Research indicates full-electric driving unlikely to be mainstream until 2033

Hybrid to replace diesel as most preferred car choice after petrol

New research has revealed that full-electric motoring looks to be some way in the future. The survey of 690 Irish car drivers intending to purchase a new or used passenger vehicle within the next 24 months found that 26% of respondents are likely to opt for self-charging hybrid electric cars, making them now the second most popular car choice after petrol.

On the topic of what power train people intend purchasing for their next car, petrol ranked highest at 38%, followed by self-charging hybrid electric at 26%, diesel at 25%, full-electric at 7% and plug-in hybrid at 4%.

Commenting on the overall survey findings, Steve Tormey, CEO of Toyota Ireland said,

“In my opinion, one of the key take-outs from the research is that despite the incentives on offer for electric and self-charging hybrid electric vehicles, adoption has been slow and if we are to progress at pace towards a zero emissions driving environment more may need to be done to ensure that customers are considering alternative powertrains and moving away from fossil fuels.”


The nationally representative study, which was conducted by iReach on behalf of Toyota Ireland, sought opinions and preferences on preferred propulsion choices for passenger cars including petrol, diesel, self-charging hybrid electric, full electric and hybrid plug-in variants.

The future is electric…but not yet: According to the research, a mere 7% are likely to choose full-electric for their next car purchase.

Of those who said they were unlikely to purchase an electric car in the near future, when asked about their longer-term potential to purchase full-electric, 2% could see themselves moving into full-electric within three to five years, 19% within six to 10 years and 24% within 11 to 15 years. Rounding these figures up and adding in the 7% of respondents who are likely to choose an electric within the next 24 months, in theory it will take until 2033 for 52% of the current driving population to likely make the switch to electric.

Commenting on the survey findings on electric power trains, Steve Tormey said,

“At Toyota we agree that zero emissions motoring is the future, and electric and hydrogen fuel cell powered cars should be widely embraced for the sake of our planet and future generations. Like any new technology it takes time for mass consumer adoption. This is something we saw with self-charging hybrid electric vehicles."

“However, I do believe that full electric mass adoption will come earlier than the survey suggests given advancements in technology, a more widespread roll-out of charging stations and the fact that we will have younger, more environmentally conscious generations joining the motoring ranks year on year.”

Self-charging hybrid electric: Preference for hybrid electric vehicles has now out-passed diesel as more than every fourth survey respondent (26%) intends to opt for a cleaner and more efficient hybrid car. Looking to the future, 73% believe hybrid to be the smartest option for the next five to 10 years – a number which jumps to 89% for 18 to 34 year-olds, while 63% embrace the environmentally sustainable credentials, 44% value its cost-effectiveness compared to other power train options and 34% cite its higher resale value potential.

Commenting on the adoption of self-charging hybrid electric vehicles, Steve Tormey, said:

“With self-charging hybrid electric you have the benefits of zero emissions as up to 50% of the time the vehicle is in electric mode. Given that 50% of Toyota sales are self-charging hybrids electrics, it’s the equivalent of selling between 15 – 25% pure electric vehicles, without need for plug-in infrastructure. 

For these reasons, it is our strong belief that hybrid represents the best immediate potential for a cleaner and more sustainable motoring solution as we move towards full-electric in the longer term. This viewpoint seems to be clearly reflected in the research findings.”

Diesel: According to the survey preference for diesel passenger cars has fallen to 25%. Of those, 81% will choose diesel for its perceived cost-effectiveness, 35% believe it’s the best option for their needs today and 32% believe it has the best comparative resale value. 25% believe it’s the best option for the next five to 10 years.

Petrol: 38% of potential car buyers intend to buy a petrol engine car within the next 24 months. Of those, 44% cited cost-effectiveness as their top reason, followed by 42% who will opt for petrol as it is what they know best and have used most often, and 34% believe it best suits their needs today. However, when looking to the future a lower 23% believe it’s the best option for the next five to 10 years.

Commenting on the current preference for petrol, Steve Tormey said,

“Given the damage that high levels of CO2 have on the environment it is quite concerning that the research has found that petrol power trains are likely to be the most popular for some time. It is quite telling that 42% of those who say they are likely to choose petrol for their next car will make the choice as it’s what they know best, which suggests that more education on the benefits of hybrid and full-electric is required, and conversely on the dangers of CO2 to the environment.”

Plug-in hybrid: Only 4% of respondents are likely to purchase a plug-in hybrid as their next car, with 97% of those being confident that it is the best option for the next five to 10 years. 82% believe it is the most environmentally sustainable and 39% believe it to be the most cost-effective option for them.

  • The iReach Consumer Decisions Omnibus delivers a high level statistical accuracy. Delivering a sample size of over 1,000 interviews, this provides a confidence level of + or – 2.5% at a 95% confidence interval.
  • All survey numbers referenced above relate to respondents who plan on purchasing a new or used car within the next 24 months, which amounted to a nationally representative sample of 690 Irish potential car buyers.

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