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October 24, 2018
By Amanda Chung
My husband and I are constantly on the go. Traveling on weekends, commuting to work, and running around every day accumulates over 400 miles between our two vehicles each week. We spend a good portion of our days in the car—and a lot of money on gas.
My husband recently started thinking about buying a new car and, for the first time ever, he’s considering a 100% electric vehicle. When he initially told me this, I had a few doubts (and maybe still do a little). Why? Because there are so many factors to consider when purchasing a fully electric vehicle. Where can I charge it? How far can I drive before I need to charge it again? Will charging stations be easily accessible when I need them? According to a recent pulse survey conducted by J.D. Power regarding U.S. consumer willingness to purchase electric vehicles, I’m not the only one with these questions.
While my husband’s opinion of buying an electric vehicle may have changed from a year ago, that’s not the case for many consumers. Sixty percent of consumers said they would not consider any type of electric or alternative fuel vehicle if they were in the market for a new vehicle (i.e., Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, 100% Electric, or Fuel Cell vehicles). This rate is nearly unchanged from 2017. When asked what their biggest concerns are with purchasing or owning a full-electric vehicle, consumers selected “driving range (miles per charge)” (33%) and “availability of charging stations” (31%) as the top two concerns.
Despite the number of consumers who state they would not consider purchasing an electric vehicle, those same consumers are aware of the many benefits that could come with the purchase of one, like saving the environment (39%), the cost to charge vs. purchasing gas (25%), and tax credits (12%). Although each of these are identified as big benefits of an electric vehicle, they really haven’t had an impact on the overall consumer’s opinion of owning electric vehicles.
Consumers are also concerned with the amount of time it takes to charge an electric vehicle (22% reported this as their biggest concern with electrified vehicles). Thirty-six percent reported they “probably would” and 19% “definitely would” purchase an electric vehicle if they could charge their car as quickly as filling a gas tank. Those most motivated by this scenario are 18-34 years old.
The methods for charging electric vehicles continue to evolve. Consumers were asked if wireless car-charging or performing a fully charged battery swap would change their purchase consideration. Nearly 40% stated they would be “much” or “somewhat” more willing to purchase an electric vehicle if either of those options were available to them.
Regardless of the awareness of evolving charging options, consumers are still wary of purchasing full electric vehicles. About 40% of consumers had no change in opinion with purchasing an electric vehicle after learning about other charging methods. Another 39% said “maybe, I’ll wait and see,” and the rest stated they would consider purchasing a full-electric vehicle in the next 5-10 years.
More automakers are placing their bets on the electric vehicle trend, but will consumer interest align? According to Automotive News, more than 60 electric and plug-in hybrid models will start hitting U.S. dealerships between now and 2022. While advancing technology and new charging methods may have converted my husband to a potential electric vehicle owner, it hasn’t done the same (yet) for most other consumers. Who knows—as more electrified vehicle options are rolled out, maybe consumer interest will also increase. It is a big bet. For now, I guess we’ll keep doing our research and see how much technology advances by the time we’re ready to buy our next car.
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Amanda Chung is a senior supervisor at J.D. Power. She can’t wait to see what other full electric vehicles become available by the time she and her husband are ready to purchase. The information contained herein has been obtained by J.D. Power from sources believed to be reliable. However, because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by our sources, J.D. Power does not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from use of such information.
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