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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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 flood 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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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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.

  • Tassos I never used winter tires, and the last two decades I am driving almost only rear wheel drive cars, half of them in MI. I always bought all season tires for them, but the diff between touring and non touring flavors never came up. Does it make even the smallest bit of difference? (I will not read the lengthy article because I believe it does not).
  • Lou_BC ???
  • Lou_BC Mustang sedan? 4 doors? A quarterhorse?Ford nomenclature will become:F Series - Pickups Raptor - performance division Bronco - 4x4 SUV/CUVExplorer - police fleetsMustang- cars
  • Ede65792611 Got one. It was my Dad's and now has 132K on it. I pay my Mercedes guy zillions of dollars to keep it going. But, I do, and he does and it's an excellent vehicle. I've put in the full Android panel for BT handsfree and streaming with a backup cam.
  • Lou_BC Wow. People say they want sedans and there should be more of them. Goes to show that internet warriors do not accurately represent the desires of the general population. What do people buy? Pickups and CUV'S. Top 10:1. F Series2. Silverado3. Ram4. Toyota Rav45. Model Y Tesla6. Honda CRV7. Sierra8. Toyota Camry9. Nissan Rogue10. Jeep Grand Cherokee Only 2 sedans.#5 Is a sedan and an EV#8 The ubiquitous Camry The only way to resurrect the sedan is by banning crewcab pickups.