One in four American consumers plan to go fully electric for their next vehicle, according to a new national survey by AAA.
Why the switch? The most common factor for those interested in buying an electric vehicle (77%) is to save on fuel costs. But, AAA notes that there are still those who are hesitant to make the switch, citing lingering concerns relating to range, price and availability of public charging options.
“Consumers who are fed up with the wild price swings at the pump, may be more willing than ever to make the switch to an electric vehicle,” Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman, said in a statement. “Record-high gas prices have brought the cost of owning an EV more in line with a standard gasoline-powered vehicle. Although it may cost more money up front, EVs cost less to charge, maintain, and are more efficient.”
EV sales are continuing to steadily rise in the U.S. In 2021 alone (through October), almost 450,000 EVs were sold – an 88% increase year over year. Despite rapid growth, EVs account for less than 1% of cars and trucks in operation today. But, industry analysts forecast the share of EVs on the road will reach 15% by 2030, and 50% by 2050.
As for costs, which can vary depending on vehicle size, type and gas prices, AAA found the cost of charging an EV is 2-4 times less than fueling a gasoline-powered vehicle.
When comparing two popular EV sedans against popular gasoline-powered vehicles, AAA found that EVs charged at home, based on the current national average rate, spent around $10 per full charge, and those charged in public around $20 per full charge.
Gas-powered vehicles, based on a national average price of $4.66 per gallon, cost about about $70 for a full tank — nearly twice as expensive as charging an EV at a public station and about four times more than charging an EV at home.
In addition to fuel savings, electric vehicles cost less to maintain, because they don’t have spark plugs, need oil changes or air-filter replacements. However, upon the conclusion of a federally-mandated 100,000 mile vehicle warranty, EV owners may need to cover the cost of a new battery, which ranges in price from $2,500 to over $10,000.
Even as more Americans lean into electric options, AAA found lingering consumer hesitation surrounding price, range, and accessibility to charging.
The top EV concerns consumers cited included the higher purchase price (60%), worry of charging accessibility (60%), long-distance travel (55%), high cost of battery repair or replacement (55%) and inability to install a charging station where they live (31%).
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. This aligns with today’s electric vehicle capabilities. These findings suggest that while automakers have made great strides to improve range, consumer anxiety over it remains a barrier to adoption.
“The anxiety surrounding range for consumers is often more of a perceived issue, until they learn more about it,” Jenkins said. “Many EV owners cite range as one of the things that concerned them before purchasing the vehicle. Yet those concerns disappeared as they learned to integrate their electric vehicle into their lives.”
“Simply improving the range of electric vehicles will not be enough to calm consumer anxiety and encourage them to give these vehicles a chance,” said Jenkins. “However, with continuous education on electric vehicle ownership, coupled with more consumers seeing their neighbors convert, the popularity surrounding electric vehicles will grow.”
The survey was conducted from Feb. 18-20, 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. A total of 1,051 interviews were completed among U.S. adults. The margin of error for the study overall is +/- 4% at the 95% confidence level.