By on December 6, 2019

If you follow the automotive industry at all, you’re undoubtedly aware that the United States is a region that hasn’t quite embraced automotive electrification on the same level as the rest of the developed world. Americans travel longer distances and have particular tastes, making EVs more popular in places like Europe and China. It also hasn’t passed the same sweeping regulations to ensure their advancement.

Whatever the cause, a new survey from London-based OC&C Strategy Consultants attempted to tabulate the disparity — asking 2,000 consumers (apiece) in the U.S., China, Germany, France and United Kingdom between March and April of 2019.

Their findings? Only about half of the surveyed Americans felt EVs were worth their consideration as a potential successor to their current ride. In China, 90 percent said they would seriously consider buying electric. Between 64 and 77 percent of respondents in Europe said the same (depending on country). 

This disparity could help explain why so many automakers hellbent on electrification are also deeply interested in expanding their footprint in China. Considering the market’s extremely strong interest in EVs, which doesn’t mesh perfectly with the country’s recent sales headaches, we wonder about the validity of the data coming out of the PRC. Still, John Evison, one of the survey’s co-authors, told Reuters the group did not receive any outside funding for its study. No shenanigans, apparently.

OC&C also noted that the Chinese are overwhelmingly okay with the idea of “fully-shared mobility options.” That concept doesn’t seem to fly in other parts of the world where communism hasn’t taken hold. Customers in the United States, Germany, France and the United Kingdom all want to retain private ownership of their vehicles. But over 90 percent of Chinese respondents said widespread sharing was absolutely fine.

From Reuters:

Ride-hailing companies Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc say they aim to reduce private car ownership.

But survey respondents in Western countries, including younger generations, said owning a car remained an important status symbol offering convenience and reliability not matched by car-sharing or taxi services.

The survey results also put a damper on companies working on robotaxis, with a vast majority of all respondents saying they would strongly prefer owning a fully automated car, as opposed to sharing it.

Some of this could be the result of geographical differences. Drivers in the United States tend to cover more miles and live in places where ride-hailing services and electric vehicle ranges can’t always cover them. Americans, however, are also more prone to seeing individualism as a virtue and like to maintain their personal freedoms whenever possible — which could be why they’re also not as stoked for autonomous vehicles.

The survey found that roughly one third of Western consumers are dubious of self-driving cars, while only 4 percent of the Chinese respondents hold similar feelings. This all adds up to a split global market with major industry players chasing trends that really only seem to be going over big in China. OC&C recommends automakers stop dumping all of their money in an attempt to create “the next shared mobility revolution” and invest instead in electrification and services that cater more to individual owners.

[Image: Xujun/Shutterstock]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

36 Comments on “Survey: EV Interest Varies Wildly Between Nations, Ditto for Shared Ownership...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Only about half of the surveyed Americans felt EVs were worth their consideration as a potential successor to their current ride. In China, 90 percent said they would seriously consider buying electric. Between 64 and 77 percent of respondents in Europe said the same (depending on country).”

    All BS numbers. I would divide them all by a factor of 10.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Well, China’s government policy has a massive slant toward EVs, as mentioned in some past articles. If you try to buy an ICE car, you may wait for years before your government grants you a license plate. If you buy an EV, you can have a plate right now. I feel pretty confident that knowledge of this reality influenced the effects of the study, even if it’s not stated.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        SPPPP is correct, and I’ve mentioned this in other EV/China articles. That green plate in the photo is for electric cars, and you can go get one today if you want to buy an electric. If you want to buy gas, you may have to wait years in some places. And you need to get the plate before you can buy the car.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’m surprised its not under half of Americans.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Posky

        Reputable domestic surveys often put EV interest in the United States pretty close to 40 percent. But if the question is framed as “will you buy one” the number drops to about 20 percent (sometimes lower). Looking at the actual sales figures makes both look pretty high, however. I imagine a lot of people are waiting until battery tech improves, the charging infrastructure gets better, and EVs come down in price but are still EV curious.

        China is harder to pin down. It’s the largest electric car market in the world by far, but 90 percent approval still feels ludicrously high. Unfortunately it’s extremely difficult to get reliable data out of the country without it first passing through the government — which has a vested interest in electrification. I’m prone to believe 90 percent of respondents said they’d consider EVs but many of them might also believe they’ll have to buy them in the coming years anyway.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I would have guessed 30% in USDM.

          I think the two mitigating factors holding it back are 1. very high initial cost and 2. to this point the Model X has been the only “large” family type model. When you simply look at the US median income, anything $30K+ is really a stretch for anyone who doesn’t own a home outright, isn’t on welfare, or doesn’t have outside sources of income. Many have been spending it and more because of the magic of 84+ month loans and they are doing it in many cases out of necessity for their families. Would they pull the trigger for the same reasons if all factors were the same except the drivetrain type? Perhaps, Ford’s offering is the closest to this formula so far but as a fastback which is still 13K+ more than the figure I threw out, I’m skeptical.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          No point in hurting your social credit score by answering the survey wrong, Matt!

          • 0 avatar
            CaddyDaddy

            +1. That was my thought exactly. China has dictatorial mandates for electric car use, want to have a car; only Green New Deal plates will be issued, low Social Credit Score if you have an ICE. Of course if you are a Govt. Official these rules are all out the window.

            Musk would love to have this power over politicians to enact such laws, errr. Nanny state types can’t wait to use Musk to enact such laws…..

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          “I imagine a lot of people are waiting until battery tech improves…”

          I imagine what they’re really waiting around for is electrified trucks and SUVs. Once those hit the market, we’ll see what the actual interest level is among Americans. I suspect it’ll be quite a bit higher.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Agreed, Matt, but of course only 1 – 2% are actually buying EVs today in the US market. That is a big disparity from survey results.

          An often overlooked metric is how many people lease EVs vs buying them. Early EV ‘sales’ – dominated by the Leaf, were overwhelmingly leases. But now that Tesla dominates the market, I think most EV sales are actual purchases. This will be better for the market.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          “Reputable domestic surveys often put EV interest in the United States pretty close to 40 percent.”

          EV interest among U.S. *dealerships* is around 2% tops. :-)

  • avatar
    AVT

    Anyone know where we are getting the raw materials for all these ev cars that we are supposed to be selling because last time I checked, we are still facing limited battery availability simply due to raw material not being available.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Don’t worry AVT, we’ll soon have “education” camps just like China for folks who want answers!

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      AVT – Top lithium production by country -1- Australia 2- Chile 3- China 4- Argentina 5- Zimbabwe 6- Portugal 7- Brazil 8- Namibia 9- United States.
      https://investingnews.com/daily/resource-investing/battery-metals-investing/lithium-investing/lithium-producing-countries/?as=1&nameplate_category=Daily

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @avt: The laws of supply and demand are taking over. New mines and sources are opening up. New factories are opening up. Battery technology is improving giving us lighter batteries that use less raw material and new formulations are reducing the amounts of the more expensive elements. We’re rapidly becoming a lithium battery-driven society. It’s not just EVs that are using them.

      https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Is-This-A-Gamechanger-For-The-Lithium-Industry.html

      • 0 avatar
        CaddyDaddy

        MSC: Last comment by you on EVs was a story that was mentioned 1 hour long wait times just to start to charge your EV in the central coast area of CA. You sniveled at the story because it came from Infowars. You accused all of us of being fake news consumers and right wing kool aid drinkers. Story was picked up by the UK daily mail, yup that’s fake news. It was true.

        Also, you are now a champion of the laws of supply and demand as the future for EV battery production. Have you had an enlightening moment. I was under the impression that subsidies, forced mandates and preferred special express lane travel were the “cost” of a Greener Future.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @caddydaddy: I never had to wait an hour to charge my EV. What are talking about. Never said anything about being fake news consumers or right wing kool aid. That is a fabrication on your part.

          As far as that line goes, I check station status before I go. If the charge rate is low or if there was a wait time, I would go to another one. I check ahead of time. With my next car, I’m getting far more range than what my single longest mileage day has been for the last decade. No public charging needed. No lines.

          This morning I left in 5f temps on a 100 mile trip. Fifty miles each way. I was in a pack of five cars headed south on i95 and 2 of us were EVs. Passed some dead ICE cars (2) on the side of the road and saw a woman freezing cold pumping gas into her car.

          Should there be subsidies for EVs? I’ve been against that for some time. EVs lanes wouldnt work where I live since Model 3s are fairly common.

          I do support subsidies for battery research since that benefits everyone from defense to the average consumer.

          I don’t think we’re going to see a major shift to EVs for another 5 or 6 years. Toyota now says their solid-state battery should be in mass production and there should be other manufacturers with improved technology by then.

          When a shift to EVs does happen, gas stations will start to get scarce. A station in service one day, might not have gas the next day. Those hour waits will be nothing compared to what’s waiting for ICE drivers in the late 2020’s. But, I suppose the 2 and 3 cylinder with CVT vehicles you’ll be driving will be a bit more economical.

  • avatar
    EGSE

    Doesn’t pass the smell test. One way to find out if what people say and what they do align or not is to ask a few control questions.

    You can’t hire a robotaxi. You can’t buy a level 5 autonomous vehicle. You can buy an electric car but the offerings are few.

    Ask a question about something that IS available…..would you consider a 1/2 ton pick-up. Or a compact CUV. If 50% of American drivers said they would “consider” a 1/2 ton truck, you now have an idea of what correction factor to apply. Clearly far less than 50% of American drivers have bought a 1/2 ton truck but they DID buy something else.

    This survey might…..might…illuminate cultural differences between survey cohorts but for estimating what would really sell it’s bogus.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Exactly. Once electric trucks and SUVs hit the market, I think you’ll find a lot more interest among American consumers.

      • 0 avatar
        EGSE

        What will help sell EVs as a mass market item are two things IMO….

        1.) More charging locations offered in a way the consumer feels familiar with, at least in the near-term. The driving public accepts “filling stations” as they use them already. They’ll need them less if they can charge at home, but having something available they know and trust would build acceptance.

        2.) We expect marketers to lie to us and their assertions are devalued as a result. Hearing positive experiences from friends, neighbors and colleagues who are already EV drivers will be accorded a much higher level of trust. This gives them use cases they can relate to from people they can relate to. When they see they got home OK, didn’t explode from whatever due to their choice of propulsion, that will again build acceptance.

        Look at personal computers. At the dawn of The Silicon Age a few early adopters took a byte at the apple a bit at a time. Over time they became easier to use and more compaq. Now everyone has a computer, even the farmers in the dell.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          (2) is definitely true.

          My Trump-supporting in-laws ridiculed electric cars based on what they heard on TV and the radio. Then my MIL came to town for a visit this week, and spent a good chunk of the week driving our Bolt around. Now she’s going to go home and bug FIL to test-drive one as an alternative to their big, hard-to-park F-150.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Unfortunately, our politics require us to join tribes when it comes to cars these days. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I know plenty of left-wing folks who drive trucks and plenty of right-wing folks who would love a Tesla.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    One thing everyone’s ignoring: folks in China might actually be sold on electric cars because they make sense there. Many Chinese cities are literally choked by pollution, much of it produced by automobiles. Even the most polluted U.S. cities are nowhere as bad as, say, Beijing.

    Bag on China all you want (and with good reason), but I’d say at the end of the day, their desire for more electric vehicles makes a TON of sense. Give ’em some credit for knowing what’s best for them.

    Maybe we should be focusing on how to figure out how to sell more electrics there.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Besides the tariff issue, that’s why Tesla’s Gigafactory 3 is there and producing cars today. Twelve months ago, that site was a meadow. It’s amazing how fast it went up.

      • 0 avatar
        civicjohn

        @SCE, I agree that the time it took to build GF3 was incredible. But I believe they are (as of now) essentially building “kit cars” delivered from Fremont.

        I assume that will be changing by Q2 2020, but IMHO it’s still a small piece of the spin game, I guess there’s nothing wrong with that.

        And as others have said above, I bet the Chinese ratings are influenced by the “social credit score”. They’re serious about that stuff.

        • 0 avatar
          EGSE

          I strongly suspect that the permitting process was perfunctory and fast-tracked on orders from above with no dissent allowed. In the U.S. it can take years between the boardroom decision to build a new plant and actually break ground on it, with dozens of regulatory agencies sticking their fingers into the works.

          Using CKD kits to get the ball rolling is SOP everywhere. Soft-starting allows for workforce hiring and training to happen in stages. The items that are harder to fab or assemble are already done which minimizes risk. Incrementally rolling out the manufacturing processes is easier to manage and get right the first time than trying to do everything in parallel. It also lets you get the local supply chain set up without impeding progress. They’re learning how to do it and avoiding past mistakes. To me this is a welcome sign that Tesla is maturing.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      West Coast cities have been suffering some of the worst pollution in the world (yes, fully Beijing or New Delhi bad) at times during the wildfire seasons in the last three years. A shift to EVs won’t stop the wildfires but it will at least minimize the other particulates in the air.

      https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/08/news-seattle-portland-dirtier-air-quality-than-parts-of-asia/

  • avatar

    “If you follow the automotive industry at all, you’re undoubtedly aware that the United States is a region that hasn’t quite embraced automotive electrification”

    Totally wrong. Where did you get that piece of propaganda? All I see around me are Teslas and Priuses and most of Fusions are of hybrid/plugin variety. Charging stations are everywhere. I mean everywhere: in every office parking, every grocery store, every pharmacy, Home Depot, Best Buy – just name it.

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    Granted, some of those Chinese respondents favoring EVs may have answered those questions while choking on smog.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Potential killer apps for autonomous vehicles [whether shared or otherwise]:
    – Safely delivering the kids to school
    – Running to the local store to pick up an online order (groceries, medications, hardware supplies for a job in process)
    – Transporting wealthy senior citizens (including health care appointments)
    – Getting oneself home from the bar/party
    – Hassle-free long-distance travel
    – Goodbye in-person dealer service visits (send the vehicle on its own)

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      The “safely home from the bar” bit won’t happen. Too much money for municipalities, lawyers, and everyone else in the DUI industry. Not saying you should be able to drive blasted, but I had a Soldier get a DUI for being drunk in his car with the seat reclined laying down. The rationale was that the car was running. It was as it was 30 degrees below zero and the dude didn’t want to freeze to death.

  • avatar
    analogman

    If the goal is to save our planet from global warming – which I think is an excellent idea, because it’s the only one we have – then electric cars are not the ‘answer’. The real answer is not so much to switch cars to electric, but first to change how electricity is generated.

    ‘Electricity’ is not a primary energy source (unless you’re going to try and capture lightening). It’s a way of transmitting energy. It doesn’t come out of a hole in the ground. Some other primary source of energy must first generate, and then be converted into, electricity. Preferably that would be solar, wind, or tidal, but in this country, about 85% of energy still comes from either fossil fuels or nuclear –

    https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=427&t=3

    Unless this country, and the world in general, makes major moves to generate electricity from renewable sources, the harsh reality is that most ‘electric’ cars today are really just powered by natural gas, coal, or nuclear energy, whatever was used to generate the electricity in the first place. Electric cars are not honestly ‘zero’ emissions (smug bumper stickers notwithstanding), they’re remote emissions. The emissions simply come from the plant that generated the electricity, burning whatever they did to do it.

    It’s different if you happen to live ‘off the grid’ and generate all your own electricity with solar panels, or live in a place like Oregon that generates 76% of its electricity from hydroelectric –

    https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=OR

    But that’s not the case for most people in most of the country.

    If we really want to save our planet, we need to elect leaders who will actually move us off of fossil and nuclear fuels and take the hard, expensive, and politically painful steps of creating a renewable energy infrastructure. Only then will electric cars make broad sense for the country, and world, at large. Otherwise, simply driving an ‘electric’ car often doesn’t accomplish much, especially if you happen to live in one of the 18 states that uses coal as the primary source of energy to generate electricity –

    https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=37034

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Even an electric car that uses coal gets close to twice the mileage from the same carbon emissions as a gas-powered car. It just gets better from there as the power gets cleaner. (And, no, the slightly higher carbon emissions during manufacture don’t come close to making up the difference.)

      You’re absolutely right that we need to work on the grid, but even electric cars using dirty power are an improvement over gas cars.

      • 0 avatar
        analogman

        Any electric car is only as ‘clean’ as the power source used to generate the electricity that charged it:

        https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/electric-cars-are-not-necessarily-clean/

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    This news probably doesn’t bode very well for the climate change cult in the US. Anyway, I’ve long thought that Danish child and the other climate protesters should go to China and protest there. China uses four times the coal we do, and that their public is more inclined to embrace electric cars shows they might have more sympathetic ears there.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • 28-Cars-Later: Mazda’s future is to tread water further, at least in USDM.
  • 28-Cars-Later: The people who worked to free Ghosn should have faked their deaths shortly thereafter. I’m sure...
  • 28-Cars-Later: **** you dolphin and whale.
  • slavuta: What is the alternative? Range Rover? British behaved badly in the colonies not that long ago.
  • ajla: “but it may be larger than you think” I just don’t see it. Premium compacts from nonpremium...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber