Shocker: Study Shows Americans Aren't Interested in Owning EVs, Prefer Better Gas Mileage Instead

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
shocker study shows americans arent interested in owning evs prefer better gas

The electric vehicle revolution, if you want to call it that, won’t happen in the “I woke up and everything was different” manner envisioned by hard-core EV enthusiasts.

EVs are no longer new to the automotive scene, but there’s still a vast gulf between the opinions of politicians and automakers and that of the buying public. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of Americans polled in a recent study say they aren’t ready or willing to add an electric vehicle to their household.

The Reportlinker Insight survey, conducted in mid August, targeted a representative sample of the population, and found that 81 percent of respondents weren’t ready to take a chance on an EV.

There’s a host of issues with battery electric vehicles — cost, range, durability and recharging infrastructure — that are holding back sales. When asked about the drawbacks of EV ownership, 33 percent of respondents listed undeveloped recharging infrastructure as the biggest barrier to ownership. Cost of acquisition ranked highest for 21 percent of respondents, while a further 15 percent cited the speed of a recharge.

These issues should improve incrementally, with a looming crop of 200-plus mile EVs in the $30,000–$35,000 range poised to [s]flood[/s] trickle into showrooms and driveways over the next few years. None of them are trucks, which consumers love with a burning passion. Meanwhile, the rollout of private and public charging stations continues at a very modest pace. Even the most enthusiastic EV die-hard must realize that the revolution won’t come with a bang.

According to the study, Americans aren’t even sold on the idea of EVs being the logical successor to traditional fuel vehicles. Of the respondents, 43 percent say the best alternative to gas- and diesel-powered vehicles are more efficient fossil fuel-powered vehicles. 29 percent say hybrid (plug-in) electric vehicles were a better alternative. Only 12 percent believe fully electric vehicles should drive us into the future.

Millennials are the outlier to this question. For a number of reasons, including current vehicle ownership (or lack thereof), location and lifestyle, 48 percent of younger adults said hybrid and battery electric vehicles are the best alternative. You can just image the ad teams prepping Millennial-focused marketing campaigns for those future models. Cue the banjos, straw hats and jam sessions on the front steps.

When asked when they expected to see mass adoption of electric vehicles, 37 percent of respondents said it won’t happen until 2035. The second-largest group of respondents — 26 percent — expect it by 2025.

Tesla has signed up 373,000 would-be buyers for its upcoming Model 3, but the brand’s near-mythical status surely plays a role in the public’s enthusiasm for that model. The real test of the public’s EV appetite comes when the Chevrolet Bolt, next-generation Nissan Leaf and other “regular” EVs hit the market.

[Image: Tesla Motors]

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  • Whitworth Whitworth on Sep 07, 2016

    It is funny that all the ridiculous "oil conspiracies" about why we don't have an electric car and "secret" technology was all fever swamp nonsense. I see EVs taking over eventually, but the idea we could all be driving electric cars decades ago was nonsense. So decades now we will still have most vehicles powered by fossil fuels, it will just be power plants burning them instead.

    • Drzhivago138 Drzhivago138 on Sep 07, 2016

      Never mind that electricity production from non-fossil fuel sources has also been steadily increasing.

  • GeneralMalaise GeneralMalaise on Sep 07, 2016

    We've seen the Golden Age of the Automobile and it has lasted for 25 years now. We are very fortunate, in that respect.

  • MaintenanceCosts We hear endlessly from the usual suspects about the scenarios where EVs don't work as well as gas cars. We never hear the opposite side of the coin. From an EV owner (since 2019) who has a second EV reserved, here are a few points the "I road trip 1000 miles every day" crowd won't tell you about:[list][*]When you have a convenient charging situation, EV fueling is more convenient than a gas car. There is no stopping at gas stations and you start every day with a full tank.[/*][*]Where there are no-idling rules (school pickup/dropoff, lines for ferries or services, city loading, whatever else) you can keep warm or cool to your heart's content in your EV.[/*][*]In the cold, EVs will give you heat from the second you turn them on.[/*][*]EVs don't care one bit if you use them for tons of very short trips. Their mechanicals don't need to boil off condensation. (Just tonight, I used my EV to drive six blocks, because it was 31 degrees and raining, and walking would have been unpleasant.)[/*][*]EVs don't stink and don't make you breathe carcinogens on cold start.[/*][*]EV maintenance is much less frequent and much cheaper, eliminating almost all items having to do with engine, transmission, or brakes in a gas car. In most EVs the maintenance schedule consists of battery coolant changes and tire maintenance.[/*][*]You can accelerate fast in EVs without noisily attracting the attention of the cops and every passerby on the street.[/*][/list]
  • MaintenanceCosts Still can't get a RAV4 Prime for love or money. Availability of normal hybrid RAV4s and Highlanders is only slightly better. At least around here I think Toyota could sell twice the number of vehicles that they are actually bringing in at the moment.
  • Tree Trunk Been in the market for a new Highlander Hybrid, it is sold out with order time of 6 months plus. Probably would have bit the bullet if it was not for the dealers the refuse to take an order but instead want to sell from allotment whether it fits or not and at thousands over MRSP.
  • AKHusky The expense argument is nonsense. My mach e was $42k after tax credit. Basically the same as similarly equipped edge. And it completely ignores that the best selling vehicles are Rams, F150s, and Silverados, all more expensive that a bolt, MAch e or ID4. As an owner, I'd say they are still in second car territory for most places in the country.
  • Johnster I live in a red state and I see quite a few EVs being purchased by conservative, upper-class Republicans (many of them Trump-supporters). I suspect that it is a way for them to flaunt their wealth and that, over time, the preference for EVs will trickle down to less well-off Republicans.