Car shoppers in the U.S. are more likely than ever before to think about buying an electric vehicle, this according to the new J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Electric Vehicle Consideration (EVC) Study. You may initially think the higher interest is due to the high gas prices we've seen this year - which would make sense. But J.D. Power researchers attribute the increased interest to something else: the growing number of entries on the market - many of those from long-established vehicle manufacturers. Add to that, some of them are in largely untapped segments like pickup trucks (the Ford Lightning and the Chevrolet Silverado EV come to mind.)
In the study, the percentage of shoppers who say they're "very likely" to consider an EV for their next purchase or lease climbs to 24%, which is four percentage points higher than in the 2021 study. Still, J.D. Power says a large number of skeptics remain.
“The addition of new EV models has moved the needle on consumer consideration,” said Stewart Stropp, senior director of automotive retail at J.D. Power. "In fact, several new models from perennial mass market brands are at the top of that consideration list. Even so, more remains to be done in terms of transitioning from early to mass adoption. Though the study findings show a shift in favor of EVs, about 76% of new-vehicle shoppers say they are not ‘very likely’ to consider buying one. With new EV model introductions coming at a rapid pace, automakers must continue their efforts to persuade more shoppers to give these vehicles a try."
Factors that attribute to EV consideration include living situations and charging concerns. For example, J.D. Power found that:
- Home owners (27%) are more likely to think about owning an EV than those who rent (17%). J.D. Power researchers say not only are homeowners more affluent, on average, but are more likely to be able to charge an EV at their residence.
- Meanwhile, 34% of respondents indicated they are unlikely to consider purchasing an EV because they don't have access to any charging capabilities at home or work.
Researchers also say this year's study finds that the more vehicle owners drive, the more they are likely to consider an EV. While daily commuters who are encountering higher fuel prices are logical candidates to switch to EVs, those who take frequent vacations and road trips might be assumed to be less likely to adopt EVs. But, like heavy commuters, heavy road-trippers have a higher EV purchase consideration tendency than those who use their vehicles less often for this purpose. J.D. Powers says it could be an indication that frequent drivers are increasingly seeing the advantages of EVs compared with their gasoline-powered counterparts.
First-Hand EV Experience Is Key
So how do automakers turn the "somewhat likely" buyer to an actual customer? J.D. Power suggests it's all about exposure. Getting car shoppers who've never experienced EVs before - never driven, ridden in or even sat in one - a chance to get to know them. The numbers paint a pretty clear picture. The 2022 study reveals that shoppers who've experienced EVs firsthand are more likely to consider buying one. Only 11% of study respondents who had no personal experience at all with EVs say they are “very likely” to consider an EV. That percentage more than doubles to 24% among those new-vehicle shoppers who have simply been a passenger in an EV and rises to 34% among those who have driven an EV. Once a car shopper becomes an EV owner, they're likely to stay that way. The study found that 48% of current EV owners say they are “very likely” to consider another one.
Following are more key findings of the 2022 study as outlined in J.D. Powers' press release:
- EV consideration stronger among premium buyers: Since purchase price continues to play a prominent role in the vehicle purchase process, and because EVs often have higher price tags than their gas-powered counterparts, it is not unexpected that EVs are finding more favor among premium buyers than mass market buyers. Some 37% of premium vehicle owners indicate they are “very likely” to consider an EV for their next purchase vs. just 21% among those who currently own mass market vehicles.
- EV consideration by owners of mass-market vehicles on the rise: Though premium vehicle owners remain more likely to consider EVs than owners of mass market vehicles, the owners of mass market vehicles increasingly register an interest in buying an EV. The year-over-year increase in those who say they are “very likely” to consider an EV is up six percentage points among owners of mass market vehicles and up one percentage point among owners of premium vehicles. J.D. Power says this suggests some owners of mass market vehicles are receptive to more affordable EVs.
- More information engenders more consideration: The study reinforces findings from a year ago that a lack of information about EVs is a key factor in shoppers’ rejection of them. Nearly one-third (30%) of rejecters cite a lack of information as a reason for their lack of consideration. Because firsthand experience with EV technology is still not entirely commonplace, shoppers need to be better informed about the ownership experience they offer.
- EV consideration by geographic location: It is not unexpected that new-vehicle shoppers in the West region show the highest proclivity for EV purchase. Some 31% of those in the West say they are “very likely” to consider an EV. Surprisingly, the South (26%) tops the Northeast (22%) among those who say they are “very likely” to consider an EV. The North Central is at 22%.
- Legacy automakers turn in strong showing: Owners of numerous mass market brands express an increased interest in EVs from a year ago. At the same time, owners of several premium brands, including Tesla, express somewhat less interest in making their next vehicle an EV. “Tesla remains a dominant player, but new-vehicle shoppers are proving quite willing to consider EVs from legacy brands,” Stropp said.
About the Study
The U.S. Electric Vehicle Consideration (EVC) Study is an industry benchmark for gauging EV shopper consideration. Study content includes overall EV consideration by geography; demographics; vehicle experience and use; lifestyle; and psychographics. It also includes model-level consideration details such as cross-shopping and “why buy” findings, and analysis of reasons for EV rejection. The study measured responses from 10,030 consumers and was fielded from February through April 2022.