Who’s winning the Google search battle – Electric or Petrol?

Searches for electric cars are soaring, is this the turning point in the industry? Is every city hatch, every family SUV and every sports car we see on our commutes now going to be silent? According to Google searches, potentially.

We’ve analysed a bunch of data from Google Trends, a handy site that allows anyone to delve a little deeper into exactly what is being searched on the world’s biggest search engine, as well as being able to pinpoint exactly where those searches are coming from.

Looking at the entirety of the U.K in the last 90 days, it seems the intrigue for electric cars really is there, with three times as many searches recorded for ‘electric cars’ compared to searches of ‘petrol cars’. Searching for something as broad as this often means a user doesn’t have a specific brand or model in mind, and will therefore be guided by Google to find cars that suit their budget and lifestyle. With so many brands now making the leap to become at least somewhat electrified, the choice really is vast, and often quite confusing. On the market currently is a plethora of PHEVs, BEVs, MHEVS, Mild Hybrids and fully electric cars, which is simply too much choice for current regular petrol or diesel owners.

Blue – Electric Cars

Red – Petrol Cars


Let’s take a look at some broad searches from the last 90 days, where we will then delve a little deeper into what specific cars are dominating searches. Looking at simple terms like ‘petrol car’ vs ‘electric car’, the results are quite clearly in the silent warriors’ favour – in fact, over three times as many searches were made on average.

This may be partially down to what we mentioned earlier in the article, the lack of understanding around what actually makes an ‘electric car’. The term is pretty vague, which would suggest users who type it into Google (or other search engines) may be at the very beginning of their car buying journey. They’re simply looking for more information on electric cars, where from that they can narrow down their searches at a later date. On the flipside, petrol cars have been around for generations, therefore naturally there are less users at the very top of the search journey, as they’ve already perhaps found a brand or style of vehicle that suits them.

So maybe that one was a little harsh on the combustion engine, as it’s unlikely many people search for such a broad term relating to petrol cars, but let’s take a look at what happens when we narrow that search down into a specific make and model. We’ve used the awesome Volvo XC40 as our example, it’s a car that can seemingly do no wrong at the moment, with a huge range of petrol, hybrid and fully electric variants on the market. Volvo have been really pushing their ‘Recharge’ option, offering impressive performance figures that make even sporty hatchbacks look slow. 

Below are results from the last 90 days looking at ‘Volvo XC40 Electric’ versus ‘Volvo XC40 Petrol’. Again, we can see the increase in intrigue for the electric version. Far more users on average are searching for the electric version, and are subsequently landing on product pages for that specific model, allowing them to enquire or even purchase directly from the site. Of course, this can be done with the petrol variant too, but with the various versions of combustion engines available to order right now, potential purchase drop off might be slightly higher.

Blue – Volvo XC40 Electric

Red – Volvo XC40 Petrol

This all comes as there’s more pressure than ever before on consumers to take the leap and buy an EV, with COP26 very much in full swing and cars are one of the four areas Boris Johnson has promised action on at the event. 

A recent article by Sky News breaks down exactly what is holding some people back from buying an electric car as their daily driver. Whilst many people might be researching them, and thinking a little further ahead into the future, right now the infrastructure simply isn’t ready for EVs. 

In the article, Science Correspondent Thomas Moore attempts to travel from London to Glasgow ready for COP26 in a Kia E-Nero, capable of travelling over 270 miles on a single charge. Moore quickly discovered this seemingly straightforward journey would be quite so simple. In summary, Moore struggled to find a charger that was actually working, and the ones that were functioning faced long queues with people itching to add some mileage to their range.

We are very interested to see what comes from COP26, it’s likely that the U.K will follow in the footsteps of European countries who are much further ahead in terms of infrastructure and awareness of EVs. What we’ve discovered though is that the demand, awareness and attitude towards electric cars are certainly changing for the better. More and more are starting their research journey and leaning towards EVs, however there is still a long way to go until it becomes completely the norm!



Elliot NewtonWho’s winning the Google search battle – Electric or Petrol?