Americans aren’t plugging in to electric vehicles


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AAA’s latest survey reveals that despite many Americans having interest in electric vehicles, when asked if most vehicles will be electric by 2029, only 4 in 10 said yes. Yet, a separate study AAA conducted earlier this year found that more than half of Americans believe that in this same timeframe most cars will have the ability to drive themselves – a reality that is much less likely to happen. AAA believes that similar to other emerging technologies, a lack of knowledge and experience may be contributing to the slow adoption of electric vehicles despite Americans’ desire to go green.

“Electric cars are quickly becoming more common, with more than 200,000 on the road across the country today,” said Mike Hoshaw, vice president of automotive services for AAA East Central. “We believe that there is a gap between interest and purchasing electric vehicles because most Americans aren’t equipped with the full scope of their capabilities and efficiencies.”

The annual AAA survey, which tracks opinions regarding electric and hybrid vehicles, found that while consumer interest remains steady, Americans may not have a solid understanding of electric vehicle performance. For instance, electric vehicles, unlike those running on gas, perform better in stop-and-go traffic because the car can recapture energy to charge the battery when decelerating. However, AAA’s survey found that a majority of Americans (59 percent) were unsure of whether electric vehicles have better range when driving at highways speeds or in traffic. This demonstrates that many consumers are not sure what to expect from an electric vehicle in two of the most common driving scenarios.

Although most Americans don’t believe electric vehicles will be on the road in masses in the next 10 years, AAA did find that 40 million Americans say they would be likely to consider an electric vehicle for their next car purchase, with Millennials leading the pack. Concern for the environment and lower long-term costs remain the leading reasons to go green (74 percent and 56 percent respectively). Previous objections to buying electric with regards to price and range anxiety continue to ease and have trended downward significantly:

Concern that there are not enough places to charge – down 11 percent from 2017

Concern about running out of charge when driving – down 11 percent from 2017

Higher cost of battery repair or replacement – down 8 percent from 2017

Higher purchase price – down 6 percent from 2017

Consumers who are interested in electric vehicles but remain unsure should research and learn as much as possible about these types of cars. AAA also recommends drivers visit a dealership, test drive an electric vehicle, and ask as many questions as possible of the dealer and other electric vehicle owners. It is also important to understand charging options available at home to ensure consumers can take full advantage of electric vehicle technology with the least inconvenience.

Survey Methodology

A telephone omnibus survey was conducted April 4-7, 2019. A total of 1,000 interviews were completed among adults, 18 years of age or older.

A dual-frame approach was used that combined land-line and cell phone interviews to ensure that adults who only or primarily communicate via cell phones are included and properly represented. Survey responses are weighted by six variables (age, gender, geographic region, race/ethnicity, education, and landline vs. cell phone only) to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total continental US population, 18 years of age and older.

The margin of error for the study is 3.8 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. Smaller subgroups will have larger error margins.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 80 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members. Past news releases are available at news.eastcentral.aaa.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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