i3 | March 29, 2022

Are Consumers Charged Up Over Electric Vehicles?

Steve Koenig
Electric vehicle being charged

Electrification is the inevitable future of transportation.

CES 2022 brought a bonanza of exhibits and announcements showcasing the evolutionary trend of electrification. The CES debut of the Vegas Loop, a Tesla-powered transit tunnel traversing the LVCC campus, added a compelling — and convenient — experience to the argument.

From CES to city streets across America, there is mounting evidence of what GM’s Mary Barra describes as “our all-electric future.” In fact, around the world car makers and countries alike have set targets for electric vehicle (EV) sales. Which begs the question: are consumers plugged-in to this trend? New consumer research from CTA suggests many are, but familiar issues like distance anxiety still need assuaging.

What do EV Owners Want?

CTA’s Electric Vehicle Landscape and Consumer Sentiment Study (December 2021) surveyed 2,200 U.S. adults including owners and non-owners of EVs. Among owners of electric vehicles we surveyed, the study found the experience of operating an EV exceeds the expectations of most. To wit, eight-in-ten (79%) EV owners say their car is more fun to drive than they expected. And 61% claim their EV exceeds their expectations when used like a gas-powered vehicle, presumably across different use cases.

Owners describe their favorite aspects of owning an electric vehicle. Among them: not having to pay for gas (34%), less maintenance (30%), and lower operating costs by using electricity (30%) top a long list of favorite characteristics. In addition, one-in-five (20%) owners cite ‘combating global warming’ as a favorite aspect of EV ownership, denoting a sense of social responsibility may motivate some EV buyers. Regardless of their reasons for buying an EV, 92% of current owners say they will consider another EV for their next vehicle.

And yet for all the praise and plaudits owners heap on their EVs, they admit operating an electric car has required some behavioral adjustments. The analysis reveals this means having to think more about trips and the distances driven.

For example, 42% of EV owners say they plan their drives more often due to concerns over battery life. More importantly, the study reveals distance anxiety is still a concern among EV owners with just over one-third (34%) admitting they worry about driving long distances. 

61% claim their EV exceeds their expectations when used like a gas-powered vehicle. 

Charge It

Distance anxiety should subside as the range EVs can travel on a full charge invariably increases. CES 2022 highlighted several examples of innovation in battery technology enabling greater range. In addition, distance anxiety could be more effectively curbed by constructing more charging stations — especially outside urban areas. This is also a necessary step to grow the market for EVs. Notably, CTA’s research found 60% of non-owners of EVs believe there are too few charging stations and therefore nearly half (49%) believe EVs are not viable for long road trips.

The good news is growth of America’s charging infrastructure is coming through public and private partnerships. The infrastructure bill recently signed by President Biden authorized a nationwide network of EV-charging stations, earmarking $5 billion to help states build them.

We also know from CES 2022 that more EVs are coming from incumbent brands like GM and Stellantis and newcomers like Vinfast and Fisker. Increasing market competition will bring more options for consumers — from sedans to pick-up trucks — to support market growth. A key finding of the study suggests non-owners are in tune with these developments, with 39% saying they are likely or very likely to consider an electric vehicle for their next car experience.

Favorite aspects of owning an electric vehicle

  • 34% not having to pay for gas
  • 30% less maintenance
  • 30% lower operating costs by using electricity

i3 magazine March/April 2022 cover

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