The retail motor industry must do more to educate customers on the wide range of fuel choices they now face, according to the Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA).

Speaking to members at the organisation’s July meeting, David Bailey, professor of business economics at the Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, and Rupert Pontin, insight director at Cazana, highlighted how this process is crucial to future sales.

“The success or failure of the electric vehicle market in all of its many forms depends on consumers being comfortable with the technology,” Bailey said. “We are moving from a phase where the market is dominated by early adopters who are happy to do lots of research about the choices facing them, to one where EVs will become part of the mass market. For that to happen, we need to provide information.”

Pontin added: “Even people who work in the sector sometimes have trouble distinguishing between PHEVs, BEVs, MHEVs and more. How do we expect customers to be able to make the right choice for their needs?

“The fact is we need to do more to help them. Any vehicle consumers do not understand is likely to be worth less. The advantages of each type need to be made clear using terminology that the buyer appreciates and understands.”

Sam Watkins, chair at the VRA, which represents businesses that handle, sell, inspect, transport or manage more than 1.5 million used vehicles every year, said the issue was one retailers would soon need to take seriously.

“In a very short time, buyers are going to be faced with multiple power options for what is ostensibly the same vehicle. All of these choices will be the right one for some customers, but the industry needs to start delivering useful guidance on the differences and the advantages.”