Each year, the American Automobile Association (AAA) conducts a survey of Americans on their sentiments surrounding electric vehicles. This year found that only 40% of Americans believe most vehicles will be electric by 2029.
However, in another survey the association conducted earlier this year, AAA found that 50% of Americans believed the majority of vehicles would have self-driving capabilities in that same timeframe.
Clearly, Americans are more optimistic about automated vehicles than they are electric ones. A lack of knowledge about EVs and self-driving technology could be driving the perception of both technologies. That’s because, while Americans are likely dead-on with their estimations of the slow prevalence of EVs, they’re far too optimistic about autonomous cars.
Back in March, consulting firm LMC Automotive concluded that by 2030 just 31% of American cars will be electric. LMC estimates the market share growth of EVs to be around 3 to 4% per year in the U.S. So, going by that estimation, the AAA survey is right on the money.
Why are Americans so down on EVs, though? AAA’s survey respondents demonstrated a lack of knowledge about the vehicles. For example, 59% of respondents didn’t know whether EVs perform better on the highway or in city driving.
That’s a depressing revelation. However, the bright spot is that Americans are more confident in EVs than they were last year. AAA calculates 40 million Americans would consider an EV as their next vehicle. That said, the numbers aren’t great — even with marked improvements.
For those unlikely or unsure if they’d buy an EV, here are the reasons they cited:
- 58% said there are not enough places to charge — down 11% from same time last year
- 57% cited fears of running out of charge while driving (i.e. range anxiety) — also down 11% from the 2017 survey
- 57% believe EVs are not suitable for long distance travel
Millennials were the generation most interested in an EV as their next vehicle (23%), compared with just 17% of Gen Xers and 8% of Baby Boomers. Forty percent of all respondents said that gas would have to top $5 per gallon before they’d consider an EV.
Of Americans who would consider purchasing an EV, 74% said a concern for the environment was their top motivator. Fifty six percent cited lower long-term costs. Cutting-edge technology and access to carpool lanes were other leading factors, as 45% and 21% respectively.
As I’ve discussed before, EVs are going to be expensive for carmakers to build — even if they’re not able to recoup those costs at the dealership. AAA’s latest survey has some good news for automakers and battery suppliers facing increased costs for EVs: 44% of respondents said they’d be willing to pay up to $4,000 more for an EV than they would a gas-powered car. Another 23% would pay more than $4,000 more for an electric car.
So although there might not be as many buyers as there will be EVs on the market in the next decade, at least those who are interested in electrified powertrains are willing to shell out bigger bucks for them.
If nothing else, there are a few key takeaways from this survey. First, the public perception of EVs is getting better by the year. Secondly, and most importantly, Americans clearly need to learn a lot about electric vehicles — their benefits, improved range and performance, etc. This falls on folks like us here at Ride, who are trying to do just that.
The onus also falls on automakers and their marketing departments to get the word out on EVs. And they have to do it in a meaningful — and not just flashy — way. American consumers essentially need a crash course in electrified vehicles … EVs 101, say. Short of an American reeducation, perhaps vehicles like the all-electric Ford F-150 can help sway buyers toward the advantages of EVs.