If Your Name Is Jones You Can Feel Superior.

EV, hybrid, low-emissionYou know surveys? These are things whereby an organisation allegedly asks people around the country certain questions and then bends and manipulates the resulting statistics to suit their aims. We see it all the time and yet I have never, ever been asked to undertake a survey (except by telephone cold callers) about anything. Well, here’s the latest thing:

It seems that new research released today by joint industry/government funded (which instantly makes me suspicious) Go Ultra Low has found that the majority (!) of car buyers aspire to own high-tech, low-emission electric vehicles to score social points over their neighbours and peers. What? Have you ever heard quite such a load of old cobblers? I have some nice neighbours but one trend I haven’t noticed is envy. They don’t care what car I drive and that’s reciprocated.

For 100 years, the phrase ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ has referenced the kind of lifestyle that the middle classes aspire to, says the survey. What? Are we still doing that? Upper class, middle class and so on? Think of all those poor downtrodden workers with their Keir Hardie caps, runny noses pressed up against the car showroom’s plate glass windows dreaming of the day that they can own an electric vehicle just like those toffs at the good end of town….

According to this list, with new car registrations hitting a ten year high it is clear that many UK drivers aspire to the cost benefits, style and convenience of electric motoring. Really? There’s nothing wrong with electric vehicles and I quite like driving them but they are still limited by range and price. They may well be popular in trendy London boroughs where I assume this survey was done (‘Darling, you really must come and see my new EV, it’s so dinky and sweet. The man at I Saw You Coming Motors says it’s saves the planet too so I feel extra good. Do you still have that old petrol thing, by the way?’) but out in the real world I suggest this is not the case.

The study by Go Ultra Low shows that the concept of ’keeping up with the Joneses’ is alive and well across the UK, with middle-class people named Jones leading the way for the nation’s car buying preferences. When questioned, respondents with the surname Jones proved to be at the forefront of ‘green’ motoring, with 77% of the group identifying alternatively-fuelled vehicles as a purchase consideration versus 67% of the wider population.

Did any of the researchers happen to notice if a lot of those Joneses questioned had their tongues firmly in their cheeks at the time? The fact that ultra low emission motoring is possible from just two pence per mile resonates very strongly with the Joneses, they say, with 88% of them saying it’s a compelling offer. Well it is if taken in isolation but when they see the bigger picture without those green-tinted glasses on the reality is not quite the same. Three quarters of motorists said that running costs were the biggest consideration when choosing their next car, making the argument for switching to ultra low emission vehicles even more compelling. This is certainly true.

For balance I should use this quote from Hetal Shah, Head of Go Ultra Low, who said: “Our research shows that, after purchase price, the top things motorists look for in a new car are affordable running costs, comfort, space and style. The huge variety of electric vehicles now on the market is changing motorists’ concept of desirability, with the majority of consumers surveyed aspiring to the new breed of quiet, refined, technology-packed plug-in vehicles. We’re confident that this year alone we’ll see thousands more motorists up and down Britain plugging-in to this growing trend.” Fine. The only problem to a cynic like me is that ‘they would say that, wouldn’t they?’

I don’t have a problem with electric cars or people called Jones. If I was in a position to, I would have an EV myself but only as a second car. I would certainly consider a plug-in hybrid as a first car. The VW Golf GTE is brilliant, for example. What gets up my nostrils is the general evangelical ‘holier than thou’ tone. It insults the intelligence. Are we really expected to take this seriously?

Footnote:

Go Ultra Low exists to help motorists understand the benefits, cost savings and capabilities of the wide range of ultra low emission vehicles on the market, which is fair enough. The collaborative campaign is the first of its kind, bringing together a consortium of leading car manufacturers: Audi, BMW, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault, Toyota, and Volkswagen, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and (key) the government. Find out more at:                                        www.GoUltraLow.com.

This vital research BTW, conducted nationwide, also showed that the Joneses are more likely to possess certain characteristics than their contemporaries with different surnames. For example, while just 8% of the wider country claim to drink prosecco in bars and pubs, nearly double (14%) those named Jones say the same. Furthermore, Joneses are more likely to listen to rock music (23% vs. 17%), practise yoga (11% vs. 6%), wear cashmere clothes (18% vs. 14%) and play team sports (15% vs. 10%). So not really serious car market research then? Typical of the Joneses that, with their loud music and fancy clothes….

Geoff Maxted