Americans are turning more to electric vehicles | web supplement
AAA’s latest consumer survey finds that a quarter of Americans say they would be likely to purchase an electric vehicle (powered exclusively by electricity, i.e. not a hybrid) for their next car purchase, with Millennials in the lead (30%). Among those who want to buy electricity, the common factor is a strong desire to save on fuel costs, with 77% citing this as one of the main reasons for interest. AAA believes that with rising gas prices, Americans’ conversion to electric vehicles will continue to increase. However, consumer hesitation regarding range and accessibility to charging continues to raise concerns.
“Rising gasoline prices over the past six months have caused consumers to consider going electric, especially for younger generations,” said Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering and industry relations at AAA. “They’re looking for ways to save money, and automakers continue to incorporate cool styling and the latest cutting-edge technology into electric vehicles, which appeals to this group.”
As America continues to grapple with the idea of electric, AAA has found some hesitation, with major objections such as range anxiety, cost, and affordability holding consumers back, including:
• Higher purchase price – 60%
• You are worried that there are not enough places to recharge – 60%
• Concern about running out of charge when driving – 58%
• Not suitable for long distance travel – 55%
• High cost to repair or replace the battery – 55%
• Impossible to install a charging station where they live – 31%
Automakers have made great strides in improving range, but consumer anxiety about it remains a barrier to adoption. AAA finds that consumers have a reasonably accurate understanding of current electric vehicle range. Six in ten Americans (60%) believe electric vehicles can travel between 100 and 350 miles before running out of charge, which is consistent with the capabilities of electric vehicles today. These results suggest that improved range alone has not been sufficient to address consumer concerns about range anxiety, as previously hoped.
“The deeper problem with range anxiety is that it will take more than just improving how far an electric vehicle can go to convince people to make the switch,” Brannon continued.
AAA believes that a better understanding of the following aspects of electric vehicle ownership will help consumers overcome these objections.
• Performance: Electric vehicles are more efficient in traffic jams because the car can recover energy from braking to recharge the battery when decelerating.
• Public or home charging: A previous AAA survey found that EV owners do 75% of their charging at home. Most electric vehicles come with a 120-volt Level 1 AC charger that plugs into a standard household electrical outlet. Level 1 charging provides between 2 and 5 miles of range per hour, which is enough for a typical US driver who averages around 30 miles per day.
• Accessibility: Often, public charging is less accessible for people living in dense cities or multi-family dwellings. In these cases, public charging is the only option. Data from the US Department of Energy suggests that there are nearly 55,674 charging stations across the country. Although the charging infrastructure has improved, further work will be required to support greater consumer adoption in the years to come.
• The integration: According to previous AAA research, most EV owners (78%) typically have one or more gas-powered or non-plug-in hybrid vehicles in their household in addition to their EVs. Educating consumers on the benefits of using an electric vehicle for shorter trips while using their gas-powered vehicle for longer trips can go a long way in addressing range anxiety while highlighting the benefits.
• Roadside Assistance: AAA stands for automobile, whether electric or gas-powered, which includes servicing members who own electric vehicles. AAA finds that, similar to gas-powered vehicles, the top reasons for roadside assistance for EV owners include tire issues or the need for a tow, but rarely lack of charging.
Simply improving the range of electric vehicles will not be enough to allay consumer concerns and encourage them to give these vehicles a chance. However, with continued education on electric vehicle ownership and more consumers seeing their neighbors convert, the popularity of electric vehicles will increase. For those who want to learn more or need help choosing their first or even their next electric vehicle, check out the AAA Car Guide. This resource provides consumers with reviews highlighting the number of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) included in the vehicle, along with other criteria and information. All category winners for 2022 are electric, plug-in hybrid electric or hybrid vehicles.