U.S. consumer interest in electric vehicles is growing rapidly, according to findings from a Consumer Reports survey released Thursday. This year, 14% of consumers said they would definitely buy or lease an electric-only vehicle if they were to get one today, compared with just 4% in the organization’s 2020 survey.
“What surprised me about the results of the survey is how many Americans really express interest in buying or leasing an EV,” said Mary Greene, senior policy counsel for CR's sustainability policy team. Greene attributed the change primarily to two factors: the high cost of gas, and people “who are concerned about the impacts on the environment” who are aware that EVs may lessen that impact.
Overall, 71% of respondents in the nationally representative survey of 8,027 U.S. consumers expressed some level of interest in buying or leasing an EV. But just 9% described themselves as “very familiar” with the fundamentals of owning an EV. According to the survey, the top concerns holding consumers back from buying an electric vehicle are charging logistics, how far they can drive before needing to recharge, and the costs associated with buying and maintaining an EV.
“The upfront cost of an EV can be quite high, although there are a number of models that are coming on the market that are much more affordable,” said Greene. Federal and state incentive programs can help lower purchase costs, but 46% of those surveyed said they had not heard about any incentives available for electric vehicle buyers.
Currently, a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 is available for the purchase of many electric vehicles. Many states, including California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Oregon, offer state incentives as well. Newly proposed California EV regulations could be adopted by 16 other states and may influence federal policy.
Cities and states have recognized the demand and have set up programs to make it easier for car owners to make the transition to electric vehicles. In Seattle, city residents can request a charger near their home, if they own an EV or plan to purchase one within the next year, through a new program with the city’s electric utility, City Light. Michigan has awarded $577,000 in grants to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure, increase access to EVs and encourage greater adoption of EVs in the state.
To support government initiatives, “Manufacturers should work on educating their consumers and letting them know that these incentives are out there,” Greene said, adding that car dealerships could help inform buyers about the incentives as well.
Greene said the survey will “show federal and state governments that Americans really want EVs, and they're excited to get into these cars.”