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One Out of 6 American Consumers Ready to Consider an EV

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric | Photo: D.Boshouwers
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Daniel Rufiange
Consumers say they’re influenced by factors like the price of vehicles and of gas, battery range and word of mouth

According to a new study by the AAA (American Automobile Association), the U.S. equivalent of our CAA (Canadian Automobile Association), one out of six American consumers is ready to consider buying an electric-powered vehicle when it comes time to change their ride.

This amounts to roughly 40 million potential car buyers open to the idea of an EV. That seems like a lot at first glance, but when you look at the bigger picture, it’s precious little considering how many electric vehicles auto manufacturers are set to unleash on the market in the next two years.

One major issue highlighted by the new study is the lack of knowledge most motorists have in regards to electric cars. In the view of Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering, this leads to a gap between theoretical interest in an EV and signing on the bottom line to acquire one.

The AAA estimates that at present there are 200,000 electric vehicles in circulation in the United States.

This study that looks at consumers’ current mindset is particularly relevant given that automakers are getting to set to unleash a large number of electric-powered cars, SUVs and even trucks on to the market.

According to the AAA, a massive initiative to educate consumers is called for:

“Many consumers are not sure what to expect from an electric vehicle.”


Nissan LEAF 2019
Nissan LEAF 2019 | Photo: D.Boshouwers

In fact, 57% of American consumers believe that EVs are not suitable for driving longer distances. This despite the fact that recharging networks are growing quickly in scale and scope, and that battery range is improving with every EV that gets launched.

The study also reveals, unsurprisingly, that young consumers are most open to the idea of going electric. What’s more, the tipping point for many of those consumers when it comes to gas prices seems to be $5 USD par gallon (which they are approaching in certain regions of the U.S.). For baby boomers, however, that milestone appears not to provide the same incentive.

Further proof that confusion persists among consumers when it comes to EVs, only 42% of American respondents think that in 10 years, the majority of vehicles sold will be powered by electricity, while at the same time a solid majority believe that self-driving vehicles will be the norm. Up until now, anyways, EV technology has advanced far faster than self-driving systems and is much more within reach.

| Photo: D.Boshouwers

There are other variables that shape the opinions and intentions of consumers. The price of gas is one, and it’s clear that the higher it goes, the more attractive EVs become. Vehicle prices are another factor. If manufacturers manage to push sticker prices down, buyers should get more interested. There are also government incentives to consider, as Canadian consumers well know by now.

Range anxiety and how well automakers manage to cure that, as well as the experiences shared by family members and friends are also important factors considered by potential EV buyers as they start to think about their next vehicle purchase.

We live in interesting times, as they say…

Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists