High gas prices are prompting Americans to go electric when buying new vehicles

AAA’s latest consumer survey finds that a quarter of Americans say they’re likely to buy an all-electric, non-hybrid vehicle when making their next car purchase.

Millennials, i.e. people currently between the ages of 26 and 41, made up the largest share of those saying they intend to go 30% electric.

Among those who want to buy electricity, the common factor is a strong desire to save on fuel costs, with 77% citing this as one of the main reasons for their interest in buying an electric vehicle. AAA believes that with rising gasoline prices, consumer conversion to electric vehicles in the United States will continue to increase.

A recent Bloomberg analysis of adoption rates around the world indicates that the United States has passed what it considers a critical tipping point for electric vehicles, with 5% of new sales being cars powered solely by electricity. . According to Bloomberg, this 5% mark signals the start of mass consumer adoption of electric vehicles, representing a time when preference for the technology is changing rapidly.

An electric vehicle charging station at NKU (NKyTribune file)

Despite the significant number of companies predicting that their next car purchase will be an electric vehicle, the AAA survey reveals that consumer hesitation regarding range and accessibility to charging continues to cause concern.

However, those fears may start to fade with the announcement earlier this month about the development of Kentucky’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Kentucky received $69.5 million in federal funding over five years for the project. The matching funds bring the total investment to support wider use of electric vehicles to $86.9 million. The state is expected to qualify for more funds in the future, expanding the original plan.

Already the nation’s top producer of electric batteries, Kentucky’s plan for alternative fuel corridors, which has already been approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation and Energy, will include all 11 interstate highways as well as eight parkways, depending on the administration. All charging stations installed will be fast-charging and located every 50 miles, with at least four chargers per station.

“Rising gasoline prices over the past six months have caused consumers to consider going electric, especially vehicle owners in the 26-41 age bracket,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, Public Affairs Manager, AAA Blue Grass. “They’re looking for ways to save money, and automakers continue to incorporate sought-after styling and the latest cutting-edge technology into electric vehicles, which particularly appeals to this group of drivers.”

Although a quarter of respondents are considering an electric vehicle for their next vehicle purchase, AAA revealed some hesitation, range anxiety, purchase price and accessibility to charging stations. recharging holding back consumers. The survey revealed that respondents had the following concerns:

• Higher purchase price: 60%
• Concern that there are not enough places to recharge – 60%
• Worry about running out of charge while driving – 58%
• Not suitable for long distance travel – 55%
• High cost to repair or replace battery – 55%
• Unable to install a charging station where they live – 31%

“Automakers have made great strides in improving range, but consumer concern over this remains a barrier to adoption for many,” adds Weaver Hawkins. “This anxiety comes despite the fact that the majority of Americans have some idea of ​​the expected range of electric vehicles today.”

(Photo by Toyota)

The AAA’s survey results indicate that six in 10 drivers (60%) believe EVs can travel between 100 and 350 miles before discharging, which is consistent with current EV capabilities. These results suggest that autonomy enhancement alone was not sufficient to address consumer autonomy anxiety, as previously hoped.

“The deeper problem with range anxiety is that it will take more than just improving how far an electric vehicle can go to convince people to make the switch. Nobody wants to think about the possibility of being stuck It may be that a combination of improved ranges, along with the development of growing electric charging infrastructure, will begin to address these fears,” Weaver Hawkins continued.

AAA believes that a better understanding of the following aspects of electric vehicle ownership will help consumers overcome these objections:

Performance: Electric vehicles are more efficient in traffic jams because the car can recover energy from braking to recharge the battery during deceleration.

Public or home charging: A previous AAA survey found that EV owners do 75% of their charging at home. Most electric vehicles come with a 120-volt Level 1 AC charger that plugs into a standard household electrical outlet. Level 1 charging provides between 2 and 5 miles of range per hour, which is enough for a typical US driver who averages around 30 miles per day.

Accessibility: Often, home charging is less accessible for people living in dense cities or collective housing. In these cases, public charging is the only option. Data from the US Department of Energy suggests that there are nearly 55,674 charging stations across the country. Although the charging infrastructure has improved, further work will be required to support greater consumer adoption in the years to come.

The integration: According to previous AAA research, most EV owners (78%) typically have one or more gas-powered or non-plug-in hybrid vehicles in their household in addition to their EVs. Educating consumers on the benefits of using an electric vehicle for shorter trips while using their gas-powered vehicle for longer trips can go a long way in addressing range anxiety while highlighting the benefits.

Roadside assistance: AAA is there for its members, which includes servicing members who own electric vehicles. AAA finds that, similar to gas-powered vehicles, the top reasons for roadside assistance requests for EV owners include tire issues or the need for a tow, but rarely lack of charging.

Simply improving the range of electric vehicles will not be enough to allay consumer concerns and encourage them to give these vehicles a chance. However, with continued education on electric vehicle ownership and more consumers seeing their neighbors convert to an all-electric car, the popularity of electric vehicles will increase.

For those who want to learn more or need help choosing their first or even their next electric vehicle, check out the AAA Car Guide. This resource provides consumers with reviews highlighting the number of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) included in the vehicle, along with other criteria and information. All category winners for 2022 are electric, plug-in hybrid electric or hybrid vehicles.

The survey was conducted February 18-20, 2022, using a probability panel designed to represent the entire US household population. The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the US household population. Most surveys were completed online; consumers without Internet access were interviewed by telephone. A total of 1,051 interviews were conducted with American adults aged 18 or older. The margin of error for the entire study is +/- 4% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups have larger margins of error.

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