US motorist association AAA says its latest consumer survey reveals that one-quarter of American respondents would likely select a pure electric vehicle (EV) when purchasing their next car, with Millennials leading the way at 30 per cent.
Rising fuel prices is a factor, with 77 per cent citing it as a top reason for interest, but consumer hesitation surrounding range and accessibility to charging continues to draw concerns. These include insufficient places to charge (60 per cent), running out of charge when driving (58 per cent) and unsuitable for long-distance travel (55 per cent).
“The increase in gas prices over the last six months has pushed consumers to consider going electric, especially for younger generations,” said Greg Brannon, Director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations at AAA. “They are looking for ways to save, and automakers continue to incorporate cool styling and the latest cutting-edge technology into electric vehicles, which appeal to this group.”
AAA said despite significant improvements in range, consumer anxiety remains a barrier to adoption, with 60 per cent of Americans thinking EVs can travel between 100 and 350 miles (160 to 560 kilometres) before running out of charge, which aligns with electric vehicle capabilities. According to AAA, the findings suggest the improvement in range alone hasn’t addressed consumer range anxiety concerns as hoped.
“The deeper issue with range anxiety is that it’s going to take more than just improving how far an electric vehicle can go to convince people to make the switch,” Brannon said.
Other objections include higher purchase price (60 per cent), high cost of battery repair or replacement (55 per cent) and inability to install a charging station where they live (31 per cent).
AAA believes having a better understanding of certain aspects of EV ownership will help consumers overcome objections. These aspects include:
- Performance: EVs are more efficient in stop-and-go traffic because they can recapture energy from braking to charge the battery when decelerating.
- Public versus home charging: A previous AAA survey revealed EV owners do 75 per cent of their charging at home. Most EVs come with a Level 1 AC charger that plugs into a standard household electrical outlet. Level 1 charging provides between two and five miles (three and eight kilometres) of range per hour, which is adequate for a typical US driver averaging 30 miles (50 kilometres) daily.
- Accessibility: Often, public charging is less accessible for people living in dense cities or multi-family housing. In those cases, public charging is the only option. US Department of Energy data suggests there are “nearly 55,674” charging stations throughout the nation. While charging infrastructure has improved, more work will be needed to support greater consumer adoption in the coming years.
- Integration: According to previous AAA research, most owners of electric vehicles (78 per cent) usually have one or more petrol-powered or non-plug-in hybrid vehicles in the household in addition to their EVs. Educating consumers on the benefits of using an EV for shorter commutes, while using their petrol-powered vehicle for longer trips, may go a long way in addressing range anxiety while also highlighting the benefits.
- Roadside Assistance: AAA finds that as with petrol-powered vehicles, the top reasons for roadside assistance for EV owners include issues with tyres or needing a tow, but rarely for running out of charge.