Americans Slow to Adopt Electric Vehicles, Study Finds


2019 Chevrolet Bolt Charging
2019 Chevrolet Bolt. Credit: Chevrolet
A new study from the American Automobile Association finds that while consumer interest in going green remains steady, many people still aren’t ready to plug into electric vehicles yet.

The new AAA survey reveals that when asked if most vehicles will be electric by 2029, only 4 in 10 respondents said yes. Yet, a separate study AAA conducted earlier this year found that more than half of Americans believe that in this same timeframe most cars will have the ability to drive themselves – a reality that AAA says is much less likely to happen.

AAA says it believes that similar to other emerging technologies, a lack of knowledge about electric vehicles, their performance and charging capabilities may be part of why Americans are adopting slowly to electric cars, despite the desire to go green.

“Today, more than 200,000 electric cars can be found on roads across the country as almost every manufacturer sells them,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Like other new vehicle technologies, Americans don’t have the full story and that could be causing the gap between interest and action.”

Key Findings

Consumer interest in fully electric vehicles is unchanged from 2018.

  • Sixteen percent (16%) of Americans say they are likely to buy an electric vehicle the next time they are in the market for a new or used vehicle.
  • Millennials and Generation X are more likely to consider buying an electric vehicle than Baby Boomers (23% and 17% vs. 8%).

Concern for the environment and lower long-term costs continue to be the key drivers of interest in electric vehicles and remain unchanged from 2018.

  • Americans who are likely to buy an electric vehicle would do so out of concern for the:
    • environment (74%)
    • lower long-term costs (56%)
    • cutting edge technology (45%)
    • access to the carpool lane (21%).

The majority of Americans who are likely to buy an electric vehicle are willing to pay more than they would pay for a gas-powered vehicle.

  • Two-thirds (67%) of Americans likely to buy an electric vehicle would be willing to pay more for it than for a gas-powered vehicle.
  • Four in ten (44%) would be willing to pay up to $4,000 more.
  • One-fourth (23%) would be willing to pay more than $4,000.

Previous objections to buying electric with regards to price and range anxiety continue to ease and have trended downward significantly:

  • Concern that there are not enough places to charge – down 11 percentage points from 2017
  • Concern about running out of charge when driving – down 11 percentage points from 2017
  • Higher cost of battery repair or replacement – down 8 percentage points from 2017
  • Higher purchase price – down 6 percentage points from 2017

EV Research

AAA suggests that consumers interested in electric vehicles research as much as possible about these types of cars.

Performance/Range: For instance, electric vehicles, unlike those running on gas, do better in stop-and-go traffic because the car can recapture energy to charge the battery when decelerating. However, AAA’s survey found that a majority of Americans (59 percent) were unsure of whether electric vehicles have better range when driving at highways speeds or in stop-and-go traffic. This demonstrates that many consumers don’t know what to expect from an EV in two of the most common driving scenarios.

Charging: It is also important to understand charging options available at home to ensure consumers can take full advantage of electric vehicle technology with the least inconvenience.

AAA Green Car Guide

Each year AAA (Automobile Club of Southern California Automotive Research Center) produces its Green Car Guide, which rates electric vehicles as well as hybrids and highly fuel-efficient cars based on criteria such as ride quality, safety and performance.

“Consumers may not realize it, but they have many options when it comes to shopping for an electric vehicle,” said Megan McKernan, manager of Automotive Research Center. “The Green Car Guide can help first-time and even return buyers navigate the marketplace and dispel any misconceptions they may have about these types of vehicles.”

You can check out the list below:
GreenCarGuide 2019 Winner's List
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