Electric car charger
A skills gap is to blame for a lack of mechanics able to fix electric cars, driving up insurance premiums Reuters

British drivers are most put off buying an electric or hybrid car because of higher insurance premiums, not a lack of charging points, it has been revealed.

Some 70 per cent of 2,000 drivers questioned in late 2016 said the higher insurance costs would stop them from buying an electric of hybrid car, despite reduced tailpipe emissions and potential running cost savings compared to petrol or diesel power.

Younger drivers were more keen to pay higher insurance, with 21 per cent saying they would put up with the increased rates, while just nine per cent of over-55s agreed with this sentiment. Despite 40 per cent of motorists expressing grave concerns about air pollution and seeing electric and hybrid vehicles as the answer, the majority are unable or unwilling to pay for the higher insurance cover.

Over a third of respondents ranked air pollution as the aspect of daily life they worries about the most, but just 17 per cent felt the increased cost of electric car ownership was worth the reduced environmental impact.

A reason for the insurance price hike is how few mechanics in the UK are trained to work on and repair electric and hybrid cars. Data from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), which commissioned the survey, claims just one per cent of mechanics have the necessary qualifications to carry out work on the high-voltage power systems used by these vehicles. In most cases, drivers would have to take their electric or hybrid car to a franchised dealership, where costs fed back to insurers for accident repair are higher.

Because of this lack of trained mechanics, the IMI claims insurance cover for electric and hybrid cars can be up to 50 per cent higher than similar internal combustion vehicles. Higher purchase prices are also driving up insurance costs, despite efforts by the government to offer grants worth several thousand pounds to electric and hybrid car buyers.

The IMI has criticised the government for failing to help drivers invest in greener cars, and has asked for a £30m share of the £600m ministers created to promote emissions free vehicles to be spent on training mechanics on how to work on the vehicles.

IMI chief executive Steve Nash said: "The government has recognised the most obvious barrier to consumers buying electric cars, which is the charging infrastructure, and it is taking direct steps to address this. However, it needs to recognise that this is the biggest change in the automotive industry for over 100 years and there are other barriers that must be addressed too, not least the skills gap."

Nash added: "Millions of taxpayers' cash spent on charging points will be wasted if the Government won't help independent garages and wider industry keep up with the switch to electric...Small businesses are uncertain about future demand for work on electrified cars and won't risk investing in the skills they need without help from the government."