Are U.S. Consumers Finally Embracing Electric Vehicles?

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More EV Choices
Over the last few years, the number of electric vehicles available in America has increased dramatically. Currently there are more than 50 new models on the market (or coming soon) that run solely on electricity, with many others in the pipeline. Now that most major automakers offer an EV of some sort, are shoppers ready to shift gears and move to electric vehicles? J.D. Power recently released its 2022 Electric Vehicle Consideration Study, which explores the likelihood that consumers will get on board with this new wave of EVs and fuel a sales growth in the U.S. In its second year, this informative study analyzed responses from 10,030 consumers between February and April of this year.

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New EVs Moving the Needle
“The addition of new EV models has moved the needle on consumer consideration,” said Stewart Stropp, senior director of automotive retail at J.D. Power. “In fact, several new models from perennial mass market brands are at the top of that consideration list. Even so, more remains to be done in terms of transitioning from early to mass adoption. Though the study findings show a shift in favor of EVs, about 76% of new-vehicle shoppers say they are not ‘very likely’ to consider buying one. With new EV model introductions coming at a rapid pace, automakers must continue their efforts to persuade more shoppers to give these vehicles a try,” noted Stropp.

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EV Sales Increasing
Electric vehicles still comprise a small percentage of overall new car sales in America, although that number continues to grow. According to InsideEVs.com, battery-electric vehicle registrations in the U.S. increased to almost 160,000 during the first quarter of 2022 — a 60 percent jump over the previous year. This represents a 4.6 percent market share in America — the highest ever.

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Housing Situation
Where people live and/or work plays a large role in their interest for buying an EV, since one of the benefits of EV ownership is charging while the vehicle sits at work or at home. According to the J.D. Power study, 27 percent of respondents who own their own homes are “very likely to consider” owning an electric vehicle, compared to 17 percent for those who rent. Homeowners tend to be more affluent and have the ability to charge a vehicle overnight, often eliminating the need to charge at a public facility. Conversely, 34 percent responded that they would be unlikely to consider purchasing an EV due to the lack of charging capability at home and/or work.

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EVs and Driving Distances
According to J.D. Power, a correlation exists between EV consideration and the typical driving distances consumers face. Those who have long commutes are more affected by rising gas prices and are therefore more willing to consider an alternative-fuel vehicle. The increasing range of today’s EVs helps make these vehicles viable for increasing numbers of commuters.

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Firsthand Experience
One of the biggest hurdles automakers face with regard to selling more EVs is getting consumers into electric vehicles to better understand the experience. According to J.D. Power, 24 percent of respondents who have at least ridden in an EV are “very likely” to consider a purchase, compared to 11 percent of respondents who have no experience with electric vehicles. That percentage increases to 34 percent among those who have driven an EV, while 48 percent of current owners are very likely to consider another EV purchase.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Premium Purchasers
Another obstacle to EV consideration is price. Electric vehicles are costlier to purchase than their gas-powered counterparts. For this reason, purchasers of premium vehicle are much more likely to consider moving to an EV for their next purchase when compared with mass market buyers. That said, mass market buyers are increasingly interested in EVs, with those responding that they are “very likely” to consider an electric vehicle up 6 percent compared to a year ago.

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Better Information
Electric vehicles have been in the mainstream for several years, although many consumers do not understand how EVs work or what ownership would be like. The study found that 30 percent of respondents who would not consider an EV purchase said lack of information was the primary reason for dismissing the idea of EV ownership. This directly relates to the importance and value of getting consumers into vehicles to experience them firsthand.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience

Geographic Location
Whether an EV enters a car shopper’s consideration set can have a lot do with where that consumer lives. Not surprisingly, U.S. shoppers on the West Coast are the most willing to consider an electric vehicle. A full 31 percent of those survey respondents from the western region of the U.S. were “very likely” to consider an EV purchase. Consumer in the southern region of the U.S rank second among shoppers interested in an EV purchase, with 26 percent ready to consider an EV. Current sales figures support these results, with almost half of U.S. electric vehicle sales in the first quarter of 2022 occurring in California.

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Legacy Automakers Joining In
New EV offerings from mainstream automakers (either on sale now or coming soon) are helping to increase awareness and consideration of electric vehicles. Ford leads the charge (pun intended) of American-brand companies with the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning, while Cadillac’s new LYRIC will be out this year, as will the new GMC HUMMER EV. Chevrolet has announced electric versions of the Blazer and Equinox, and Stellantis has declared that Chrysler will become an all-electric brand going forward. New EVs are also arriving from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan and more. Electric vehicles from familiar brands are likely to help awareness and ultimately increase consumer EV consideration in years to come.

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