AAA’s latest consumer survey reveals that one-quarter of Americans say they would be likely to buy an electric vehicle (powered exclusively by electricity, i.e., not a hybrid) for their next auto purchase, with Millennials leading the way (30%). Of those who want to buy electric, the common factor is a strong desire to save on fuel costs, with 77% citing this as a top reason for interest. AAA believes with rising gas prices, Americans’ conversion to electric vehicles will continue to increase. However, consumer hesitation surrounding range and accessibility to charging continues to draw concerns.
“The increase in gas prices over the last six months has pushed consumers to consider going electric, especially for younger generations,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “They are looking for ways to save, and automakers continue to incorporate cool styling and the latest cutting-edge technology into electric vehicles, which appeal to this group.”
As America continues to lean into the idea of electric, AAA did find some hesitation, with top objections like range anxiety, cost and accessibility holding consumers back, including:
- Higher purchase price – 60%
- Concern there are not enough places to charge – 60%
- Concern about running out of charge when driving – 58%
- Unsuitable for long-distance travel – 55%
- High cost of battery repair or replacement – 55%
- Unable to install a charging station where they live – 31%
Automakers have made great strides to improve range, yet consumer anxiety over it remains a barrier to adoption. AAA finds that consumers have a reasonably accurate understanding of current electric vehicle range. Six in ten (60%) Americans think electric vehicles can travel between 100 to 350 miles before running out of charge, which aligns with today’s electric vehicle capabilities. These findings suggest the improvement in range alone hasn’t been enough to address consumer range anxiety concerns as previously hoped.
“The deeper issue with range anxiety is that it’s going to take more than just improving how far an electric vehicle can go to convince people to make the switch,” continued Brannon.
AAA believes having a better understanding of the following aspects of electric vehicle ownership will help consumers overcome these objections.
- Performance: Electric vehicles are more efficient in stop-and-go traffic because the car can recapture energy from braking to charge the battery when decelerating.
- Public vs. Home Charging: A previous AAA survey revealed electric vehicle 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 adequate for a typical U.S. driver who averages about 30 miles daily.
- Accessibility: Often, public charging is less accessible for people living in dense cities or multi-family housing. In those cases, public charging is the only option. The U.S. Department of Energy data suggests there are nearly 55,674 charging stations throughout the nation. While charging infrastructure has improved, more work will be needed to support greater consumer adoption in the coming years.
- Integration: According to previous AAA research, most owners of electric vehicles (78%) usually have one or more gas-powered or non-plug-in hybrid vehicles in the household in addition to their electric vehicles. Educating consumers on the benefits of using an electric vehicle for shorter commutes while using their gas-powered vehicle for longer trips may go a long way in addressing range anxiety while also highlighting the benefits.
- Roadside Assistance: AAA is synonymous with the automobile, whether electric or gas-powered, which includes servicing those members who own electric vehicles. AAA finds that much like gas-powered, the top reasons for roadside assistance for electric vehicle owners include issues with tires or needing a tow, but rarely for running out of charge.
Simply improving the range of electric vehicles will not be enough to calm consumer anxiety and encourage them to give these vehicles a chance. However, with continuous education on electric vehicle ownership coupled with more consumers seeing their neighbors convert, the popularity surrounding electric vehicles will grow. For those interested in learning more or who need help with selecting their first or even next electric vehicle, check out the AAA Car Guide. This resource provides consumers with reviews highlighting how many advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) are included in the vehicle, along with other criteria and information. All category winners for 2022 are electric, plug-in electric hybrid, or hybrid vehicles.
The survey was conducted on February 18-20, 2022, using a probability-based panel designed to represent the U.S. household population overall. The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the U.S. household population. Most surveys were completed online; consumers without Internet access were surveyed over the phone. A total of 1,051 interviews were completed among U.S. adults, 18 years of age or older. The margin of error for the study overall is +/- 4% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups have larger error margins.