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Fact from Fiction: Why Many Consumers Don't Buy EVs

Posted 04/08/2020

Electric vehicle sales rise every year. In fact, according to Greentech Media, electric vehicle sales in the U.S. surged by 81% in 2018 and are expected to be the majority of vehicles on the road by 2029. The main reason drivers purchase EVs is because of the environmental and economic benefits, including saving a substantial amount of money on fuel and maintenance. Despite the increase in production and the fact that ¾ of Americans believe them to be the car of the future, many drivers still feel uncomfortable purchasing EVs. Let's dive a little closer and look at why.

Common Reasons Drivers May Avoid EVs

The most common reasons drivers avoid EVs include: fear the battery will run out of charge before reaching their destination, also known as "range anxiety;" fear of too few charging stations, long charge times, and initial higher upfront vehicle costs. While 58% of Americans still have range anxiety and 49% fear being unable to find a charging station, there are resources available for providing drivers with insights that address such concerns in which are changing some drivers' perspectives. According to The New York Times' "For Electric Car Owners' Range Anxiety Gives Way to 'Charging Time Trauma'" article, Americans are becoming more concerned with long charge times than the inability to find a charger. EV advocates are trying to educate drivers and eliminate the worry by explaining that EV fueling is generally done while the driver is doing something else — whether they plug in overnight, stop to shop, or grab a bite to eat.

2.4 seconds

0-60 mph Time of the Tesla Model S

Price also plays a significant factor. According to InsideEVs, over 40% of consumers report cost as a reason not to buy an EV. However, EV advocates are helping potential consumers understand that long-term savings are considerable with an EV. According to Corporate Knight's "Think You Can't Afford that EV? In a Face-Off Against Gas Cars, the Numbers Say Otherwise" article, to truly compare cost efficiency, consumers should think long term. Their research compared two practical, cost-effective vehicles: the 2019 Honda Civic XL and the 2019 Nissan Leaf S. The Honda's sticker price is $23,770, while the Nissan is $36,789. At first glance, the smarter consumer would choose the Honda because it costs a whopping $13,000 less. But looking at the vehicle longevity - including gasoline vs. charging costs and maintenance - in 10 years, the total cost of ownership of the gas-powered Honda is $66,020. Meanwhile, the total cost of ownership for the Nissan EV is $63,815. Just when the conventional reasons that potential customers have given for not buying an EV are disappearing, new reasons are emerging.

EV Education Hasn't Caught Up with Production

While there are plenty of misunderstandings and false rumors about EVs, the effect they have on vehicle sales is all too real. For example, while the majority know that EVs run on electricity as fuel, some aren't so sure. Ford recently conducted an in-depth study on the public opinion of EVs and found that lack of knowledge is a major deterrent to purchasing. According to The Drive, the Ford study found that 42% of Americans think EVs still require at least some amount of gasoline as fuel. They also found that 90% of Americans and Europeans believe electric cars have poor acceleration. However, the reality is that the Tesla Model S is the fastest accelerating sedan on the planet, going from zero to 60 in 2.4 seconds. In addition, 85% of Americans also stated that they would not buy an EV while residing in a Northern climate due to rumors of range loss in the cold weather, and 65% said they would not pick an electric power train for an all-wheel-drive vehicle. According to CNBC, "There remains plenty of confusion about what electric vehicles can and can't do, and not only in the United States." 42% of British motorists also believe an EV cannot be driven through a car wash when, in reality, it can be. Ford's study was meant to gather information ahead of the release of the electric version of their uber-popular F-150 truck, an EV with a stronger towing capacity. However, the study has revealed a need for more education on the part of EV manufacturers to help the public understand what EVs actually can and cannot do.

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