Are consumers hot for electric cars (EVs), or is it a case of “I’m just not that into you?” It depends on who you ask. A couple of surveys have been conducted in recent months that aim to gauge the level of consumer interest in these leading-edge vehicles. The results have been anything but consistent.
- J.D. Power as well as Consumer Reports (CR) in collaboration with the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS) have both recently conducted surveys aimed at analyzing consumer sentiment regarding EVs.
- According to the survey led by CR/UCS, there is strong consumer support for electric vehicles.
- However, the J.D. Power survey suggests that there is some work to be done if automakers hope to generate mainstream adoption of EVs.
J.D. Power’s perspective
J.D. Power’s quarterly study polled 5,000 respondents about battery-electric vehicles. Sentiment is grouped into three buckets: low (0-40), neutral (41-60) and positive (61-100). When it comes to consumer confidence about the future of battery-electric vehicles, the responses scored at 55 out of 100, placing the tally in the neutral category. The attributes scoring the lowest include the likelihood of purchasing an EV and the reliability of EVs compared to gas-powered cars.
According to the J.D. Power survey, a shopper’s likelihood of buying an EV is highly dependent on whether they’re ever owned one. (Photo: Markus Spiske/Unsplash)
The survey showed that future EV purchasing decisions may be based on past ownership. More than half (60 percent) of those who have previously owned an EV are “extremely likely” or “very likely” to repurchase a similar vehicle. On the other hand, 59 percent of those who have never spent time in an EV “not too likely” or “not at all likely” to purchase or lease one.
However, there’s one factor that could change hearts and minds: tax credits. The survey shows that 77 percent of EV owners and 76 percent of those with no EV experience would factor in tax credits or subsidies when making a purchase decision.
It’s worth pointing out that a scant 4 percent of this survey’s respondents have owned a battery-electric vehicle. Also, 68 percent say they have never spent time in an EV.
The CR/UCS viewpoint
The survey led by CR and UCS casts consumer sentiment in a more positive light. It shows that 63 percent of prospective car buyers in America have some interest in electric vehicles. Of this batch, 31 percent would consider one for their next purchase, 27 percent would consider one at some point in the future, and 5 percent say they are definitely planning on buying or leasing one for their next vehicle. EVs made up only 2 percent of new car purchases in 2018, so that last 5 percent number paints an exceptionally upbeat picture for future sales if you buy into this survey’s conclusions.
The CR/UCS survey shows that EVs are being considered by 39 percent of potential buyers with income of more than $100,000 annually. (Photo: freestocks.org/Unsplash)
Past surveys have shown that EVs tend to be popular in households with six-figure incomes. This survey supports that position: It indicates that 39 percent of potential buyers making more than $100,000 a year are considering an electric vehicle for their next purchase. But the CR/UCS survey also reveals that even those in less affluent households are interested in EVs. Among those making $50,000 to $99,999 a year, 39 percent are considering an EV purchase. Among those making under $50,000 a year, this number dips to 31 percent.
What’s more, the survey shows EV interest is strong among people of color: 42 percent are considering an electric vehicle for their next purchase, compared to 36 percent for all respondents.
WHY THIS MATTERS
There’s still a fair amount of consumer ignorance regarding EVs. As consumers begin to learn more about these vehicles, it’s likely that acceptance will grow. And as automakers gather knowledge about consumer sentiment in this area and the factors that drive these feelings, it’s likely that they’ll do a better job of broadening the market for these green machines.