OLDER drivers are the most likely to consider buying an electric or hybrid car, according to new Aberdeen University research.
Rather then younger adults, who have traditionally been seen as early adopters of new technology, motorists at or approaching retirement were found to be most receptive to greener wheels.
The study, conducted by Aberdeen University, revealed that the older age group were most prepared to pay the extra cost of an electric vehicle, and were particularly attracted by their low running costs,
The same group also showed the most concern about minimising the environmental impact of their driving.
The results coincided with the release of an official map that showed the continuing dearth of publicly-available electric vehicle charging points in Scotland, with none on the mainland north of Forfar.
Although electric and diesel-electric hybrid cars account for a record 1.4 per cent of car sales across the UK, it is thought that there are only a few hundred electric vehicles on Scotland’s roads.
The research was conducted in Newcastle, which has 267 charging point sites, and Dundee, which has a similar population profile but no charging sites.
Craig Morton, of the Centre for Transport Research at Aberdeen University, who led the study, said it showed older meant greener.
He said: “The highest preference for low-emission vehicles were among the oldest section of those who took part.
“We would have expected people keen on advanced technology to be younger.
“It seems the older age group is quite environmentally conscious and concerned about the environmental consequences of car use.
“They may also have money available as they come towards retirement, followed by a restricted income, so can afford to pay for a car, but then have less in the future for fuel.”
Mr Morton said manufacturers had put too much emphasis on the environmental benefits of electric cars and not enough on stressing how cheap they were to run, especially with the volatility of oil prices.
He also predicted such vehicles would remain very much a niche market over the next decade, with much greater interest from drivers in hybrid cars.
Motoring groups agreed that interest in electric vehicles had yet to translate into purchases.
The Royal Automobile Club Foundation said one in five Westminster constituencies in Scotland had no charging points.
Spokesman Phil Gomm said: “The willingness of older drivers to consider buying green vehicles is not matched by firm sales.
“For two years now, the [UK] Government has been offering grants of up to £5,000 to buy electric cars, yet only 3,000 vehicles have so far been bought under the scheme.
“As a proportion of the 2 million new cars bought in the UK annually, this is paltry.
“The fundamental problems remain: a high purchase price and the lack of a charging network.”
The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency admitted there was low public awareness of electric vehicles but a new website was about to be launched to tackle this “key challenge”.
This would provide information on buying electric cars, their benefits, and a map of Scottish charging points.
The agency said funding was available for owners to install car chargers at home, and for businesses.
It said there were more than 300 charging points across Scotland, although only around 80 were publicly available.
These comprise 66 across the Central Belt, mainly in the west, six in Orkney and four each in Shetland and the Western Isles.
The target is to increase the total to 500 within the next two months, including on main roads and at ferry terminals.
Transport minister Keith Brown said: “We want to see the almost complete decarbonisation of road transport by 2050, with significant progress by 2030 through wholesale adoption of electric cars and vans.
“As well as the obvious improvements to air quality, electric vehicles also help to cut noise pollution and drivers benefit from the cheaper running costs.
“A single £1.50 charge can get you from Edinburgh to Glasgow, and right now electric vehicles are exempt from road tax.”