Survey Says: 60% Of Americans Don’t Even Know That Plug-In Electric Car Exist

4 months ago by Eric Loveday 45

Chevrolet Bolt

Chevrolet Bolt

It seems the majority of Americans aren’t even aware that plug-in electric cars exist. That’s at least according to a survey conducted by Altman Vilandrie & Company.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

The survey findings indicate that “60 percent of American drivers said they were unaware about electric cars and 80 percent have never ridden in or driven one.”

At this point that number seems a bit high versus data points we have seen in the past, and also given that in December almost 25,000 EV sales were made, that’s 1 out of every 87 new vehicles sold came with a plug.

Some additional findings include:

  • The survey shows that a perceived lack of charging stations (85%), high costs (83%) and uncertainty over duration of charge (74%) were the top reasons for not wanting to purchase an EV.
  • Three percent of survey respondents said they currently own an EV
  • 10 percent said they planning to buy an EV as their next car
  • Sixty percent of consumers who have experienced an EV say they “enjoyed” the experience
  • eight percent reported not enjoying it

Additional findings from the survey in the press release below:

High Costs, Lack of Awareness Threaten to Short Out Electric Vehicle Adoption

New Altman Vilandrie & Company survey analysis finds more lower-priced models, in-car experiences could help many more consumers go electric

Despite significant advancements in electric vehicle (EV) technology, 60 percent of American drivers said they were unaware about electric cars and 80 percent have never ridden in or driven one, according to new data from Altman Vilandrie & Company’s survey of more than 2500 consumers. However, the survey also finds that a clear majority of consumers who have been inside an EV enjoyed it and many more consumers would purchase an EV if lower-priced models were available.

"...a clear majority of consumers who have been inside an EV enjoyed it"

“…a clear majority of consumers who have been inside an EV enjoyed it”

Over 60% of US drivers unaware of electric vehicles, low priced models would boost #EV adoption

The survey shows that a perceived lack of charging stations (85%), high costs (83%) and uncertainty over duration of charge (74%) were the top reasons for not wanting to purchase an EV. Three percent of survey respondents said they currently own an EV, while 10 percent said they planning to buy an EV as their next car. Sixty percent of consumers who have experienced an EV say they “enjoyed” the experience, while only eight percent reported not enjoying it.

“While the EV adoption rate is low, there are signs of strong latent demand in the marketplace,” said Altman Vilandrie & Company Director Moe Kelley, who co-directed the survey. “The auto industry still needs to make more low-priced models available to consumers, as well as finding a way for more drivers to try out an EV. If those things happen we should see the EV adoption rate accelerate.”

In analyzing the survey data, Altman Vilandrie & Company discovered that the EV market would grow significantly with the availability of more affordable EVs, specifically at the price point of $35,000. For example, Tesla, which is launching the lower-priced Model 3 in 2017, would generate up to a five times higher adoption rate at a $35,000 price tag than the upstart carmaker experienced for the more expensive Model S and Model X. Altman Vilandrie & Company also estimates that the release of less expensive models by all other automakers would boost EV adoption by nearly 24 times the current market.

"...the EV market would grow significantly with the availability of more affordable EVs, specifically at the price point of $35,000."

“…the EV market would grow significantly with the availability of more affordable EVs, specifically at the price point of $35,000.”

“Price matters, and our analysis shows that more affordable models would go a long way to changing the perception that EVs are luxury items for the urban elite,” said Altman Vilandrie & Company Director Soumen Ganguly, who co-directed the survey. “Both electric and self-driving vehicles are the future of personal transportation but carmakers need to make sure consumers are excited about going electric now, and that goes beyond the obvious environmental benefits.”

The tepid view of EVs comes in sharp contrast to the building public excitement around autonomous vehicles (AV), which unlike EVs are not yet commercially available. Data released in October from the Altman Vilandrie & Company survey showed that 25 percent of consumers plan to buy a self-driving car in the future.

Other findings of the survey analysis include:

  • "More range" being produced today at GM's Orion Assembly faciilty in the form of the 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt EV

    “More range” being produced today at GM’s Orion Assembly faciilty in the form of the 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt EV

    Despite the survey significant advances in expanding EV range, the survey finds that range anxiety exists for all drivers, from those who are in the car for more than three hours a day (87%) to drivers on the road for less than an hour a day (72%).

  • The survey shows that younger and more affluent consumers were more likely to buy an EV than the rest of the motoring public: 17 percent of consumers earning $100,000 or more and 18 percent of 25-34-year-olds plan on making an EV their next car.
  • Older drivers (65+) are more likely to turn to Ford or Volkswagen for an EV, while Tesla and Mercedes are most appealing to young drivers (18-24). Overall, Tesla and Volkswagen have the largest potential share of the EV market.

Altman Vilandrie & Company surveyed more than 2,500 U.S. consumers in July and polled more than 20 automotive industry experts. The survey also gauged consumer sentiments on autonomous vehicles, the results of which were released earlier this fall.

About Altman Vilandrie & Company

Altman Vilandrie & Company is a strategy consulting group that focuses on the telecom, media, technology and investor sectors. The company’s consultants are experienced in strategy, marketing, finance, M&A, technology, regulatory and operations disciplines. Based in Boston and with offices in New York City and San Francisco, Altman Vilandrie & Company enables clients to seize new opportunities, navigate mounting challenges, improve business performance, and increase investor value within complex and converging industries.

Ninety percent of the boutique firm’s operator clients are large- to mid-cap companies including service providers, technology and software developers, and media companies. Altman Vilandrie & Company’s financial clients include many of the largest and most prominent investors in the telecom, media and technology markets.

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45 responses to "Survey Says: 60% Of Americans Don’t Even Know That Plug-In Electric Car Exist"

  1. Michael Will says:

    I think electric driving fan clubs should start advertising success stories so people know what experience can be had. We ourselves had no idea how big the difference will be when we first replaced our secondary car with a VW eGolf and how it would turn into our primary car for up to twice its range, using D.C. Fast chargers along the way. And we did have a learning curve and did have moments of Range anxiety that really sucked, when the 85 mile range only was 65 because of driving full speed highway up and down hills, and finding the fast charger out of order on the way back ending up charging slower on a L2 charger instead to make it home. Then we got more than 100 mile range on another trip in stop and go traffic.

    We got the hang of it and range anxiety doesn’t happen anymore, but also because we replaced the Honda Odyssey with a Tesla Model X and now are fully electric on both vehicles.

    Now it’s just amazing to not have to visit gas stations and just plug in at home and be full in the morning means we don’t need charging stations in our day to day life until we go on a road trip, and then superchargers make it easy to go the distance with a reasonable amount of planning of where you spend your time.

    Overall the experience is so much better than gas cars I would never go back, just like I never would replace my iPhone with an old Nokia GSM phone even though that one lasts 4 days on a charge. Nor would I hand it in for a free landline either 🙂

    1. Point of View says:

      Until the price point of EV’s drops to $25K without Fed Tax credit, adoption will not rapidly grow. Whatever you think of Mit Romney, the truth is about 47% do not pay a federal tax. An additional 20% have less than $5K tax liability after normal income deductions and credits are applied. Obviously the people that come to this website are highly educated and most likely make $80,000 and higher per year. When you make that kind of money and associate with people that make that kind of money, it is easy to not believe the rest of society does not have the same abilities to do what you do.

  2. DangerHV says:

    “Twisted Statistics”, as I like to say. So much depends on the wording of survey questions. I wonder what results they were trying get before they started the survey, and if they achieved their goal.
    Clue:”Altman Vilandrie & Company is a strategy consulting group”.

    1. Another (Euro) industrial point of view says:

      +1. Exactly.

    2. Kdawg says:

      Yes, what does this statement; “Over 60% of US drivers unaware of electric vehicles”, really mean?

      Does it mean they aren’t familiar with affordable ones, or their ranges, or the specifics of EVs? Or does it literally mean they don’t know EVs exist?

      1. DangerHV says:

        This is why these survey “results” w/o the background irritate me so.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Indeed!

          Every article on surveys, and I do mean every single one, should include the exact wording of the questions posed, and should also detail the methodology by which the survey was conducted.

          I really don’t believe that 60% of adult Americans have never even heard of electric cars. The article says “60 percent of American drivers said they were unaware about electric cars…” Perhaps that only means that 60% said they don’t know much about them, and if so that would hardly be a surprise.

      2. Marco says:

        On chargedev.com I found this:
        About 60 percent of respondents picked the multiple-choice answers “I’ve never heard of electric vehicles” or “I’ve heard of electric vehicles but I don’t know much about them.”
        So the 60% are the accumulated numbers for both questions not only for the first!

  3. SparkEV says:

    60% don’t know about multiple car of the year awards? Wow, that’s amazing.

    But even if they knew, I doubt much would change. I was surrounded by SUV and trucks this morning, not even a sedan among dozen cars. It didn’t look like they’re going to haul construction stuff or trek through jungle mud.

    1. jelloslug says:

      Lots and lots and lots of people see cars as an appliance, would never buy a new car, and probably don’t even know the model and year of the car they own right now.

      1. SparkEV says:

        “Lots of people” is without number. 60% not knowing anything about Bolt after multiple COTY awards and not knowing that Tesla is EV is amazing and hard to believe. Everyone I know are aware of Tesla as EV, though not everyone knows that it’s a US company.

        Actually, that’s the perception that should be changed. The best EV are made by US companies, GM and Tesla. Even Ford is better than Nissan (2017 FFE vs Leaf). I wonder how many people know how “great” US already is.

        1. Amy K says:

          Ah, but the survey was done in July, well before all of those car of the year awards.

    2. R.S says:

      Most people don’t care about any cars, until their lease runs out, or they want a new one. Actively keeping track about cars in general is already something very few do. Keeping track about EVs is something only a minority of a minority does.

      So if you don’t know someone owning an EV, which isn’t that likely, since sales are lower than 1% of all new cars and they haven’t been around for too long, you might not even know you could buy one.

  4. TM says:

    Probably the same group that voted for “he who should not be named”.

    1. SJC says:

      EV rentals and eCabs would show people how smooth and quiet they are. Then show them the energy savings, you might get more interest.

    2. Heisenberghtbacktotheroots says:

      It’s funny but by avoiding his name you give him a god like paint…

      Although I bet your intention is the opposite.

      1. Anon says:

        Lord Voldemort was no God, though he oft thought himself as such…

        1. SJC says:

          It is fiction, get a grip.

  5. TM says:

    There are plenty of buyers right now.

    “High Costs, Lack of Awareness Threaten to Short Out Electric Vehicle Adoption”

    Both of the above “facts” are changing for the better.

    Do the survey again after 2 yrs when the Volt, Bolt, Prius Prime, and Model 3 are out there all over the place.

    1. William says:

      When the 3 year Lease returns, of the Chevy Bolt and at least a few other upcoming 200 mile+ affordable EVs become available, there will be some good deals for some savvy first time EV buyers.

      1. Brandon says:

        Right. Anyone want to guess what price range a three year old Bolt will cost?

        1. Kdawg says:

          Umm…. $19,999??

          1. Brandon says:

            $19k is likely on the high side. According to Edmunds average depreciation rates, a $30k car will be around $17k at three years old. At 5 years old it’s $12k.

            Here the link to it:
            https://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/how-fast-does-my-new-car-lose-value-infographic.html

            1. Kdawg says:

              The base Bolt is $37,500

              1. Nick says:

                Minus 7500 == 30k.

                1. Kdawg says:

                  But depreciation is based of MSRP

  6. Brandon says:

    Yup, the three main concerns that consumers have about EVs show up again:
    1. Too expensive
    2. Too short range
    3. Too little reliable DCFC infrastructure

    The good thing is that these are all changing now at a rapid pace!!!

    I do have a short article on my blog about these three, and you can get there by simply clicking on my name above.

    Another interesting fact is that between 2014 and 2016 lithium ion battery prices almost dropped in half!!

  7. Daniel says:

    I think price is only part of the equation, the cars simply have to be compelling. They can’t be compact econo box clown cars. That price point has been met for a few years now when you factor in the incentives that are available and the reduced operating costs, but most of the offerings or either ugly, polarizing, or in a single form factor which is compact sedan, which just doesn’t cut it for a car buying public that has many different needs and requires a vehicle to do more than just serve as a Econo box commuter.

    1. Brandon says:

      Yeah well that’s not surprising considering that 60% of vehicles sold in the U.S. are in the category of pickup, minivan, SUV, and crossover.

  8. vdiv says:

    People are lazy and ignorant and superstitious and fearful of change. I really dislike forcing them to drive plugins, but they certainly still need a nudge, they need help understanding, exposure to appreciate, and at the end of the day a material incentive to make the switch.

    We all know that. The transition will not happen on its own, especially with all status quo interests resisting it at every turn.

    1. TM says:

      I think it will happen on its own.
      Right now, there are no TV adds. Why?

      Production is sold out.

      They don’t need to motivate anyone to reduce the inventory.

  9. Hauer says:

    By now I’ve got the impression that 60% of Americans don’t know anything about anything.

    1. Anon says:

      This explains why Trump won the Election, and Republicans try to spend so little on a Good Public Education. As Miles Davis once said, “Knowledge is Freedom, Ignorance is Slavery.”

  10. hpver says:

    This is not a surprise. Large segments of the American public are ignorant about many things, including those that make their lives better. Nothing has highlighted that fact quite like the recent political happenings.

  11. Guy l says:

    Well 60% of the Americans don’t even know where Canada is on a map either…

  12. Jason says:

    Best promotion we can do is plug in our EV at a public charger and talk to people who see us doing that. There are lots of people who walk by and are interested in what you are doing. Then you explain that the car is electric, then you ask them how far they drive each day and tell them you have a full charge every day.

    The aspect of charging always comes up, so then you point around you and ask if there is a petrol station, the answer is usually no or that there is one in the next Street. Then you ask if there is a power point near by and the answer is almost always yes, and by the dozen. You see the light go on in their head, this car doesn’t need a special power point, it can charge anywhere.

    Simple conversations with strangers, showing the benefits of this different sort of car. Even tell them about PHEV so when they go to get their next car they might remember and think about that. One BMW owner didn’t know about PHEV offering and wasn’t too keen on EV range, so now he might be asking a few more questions when he gets his next BMW.

  13. Mad says:

    Not surprised. People know very little about their cars these days. They go to a dealer/brand that they like, pick a car that they like, and buy it. They put gas when it’s near empty and do the regular maintenance (usually) and/or take it to a mechanic when it is broken.

    EV adoption will require market forces beyond the consumer. When someone brags at a party that they pay nothing in gas, it’ll make the ignorant feel dumb. When they look at a car that gets 100 mpg on their sticker, they’ll wonder why the hell would they buy a car that gets 35?

    The reality is the cars are not available so people are completely unaware of them.

  14. Cody says:

    Update: Survey Says 60% of Americans are *******morons. How could you POSSIBLY not know they exist. Anyone who falls into that category, please don’t reproduce.

    1. TM says:

      +1 LOL.

      However, stupid people can produce smart kids and vicsa versa.

  15. Murrysville EV says:

    “The survey shows that a perceived lack of charging stations (85%), high costs (83%) and uncertainty over duration of charge (74%) were the top reasons for not wanting to purchase an EV.”

    All true. Everyone here in the EV echo chamber needs to wake up.

    Let me explain:
    1. Lack of charging stations: The only charging standard you can use to drive coast-to-coast is the Supercharger. All the others have spotty coverage, and the lack of a universal standard is pathetic. Even the COTY Bolt will remain on a short leash until nationwide charging coverage is achieved.

    2. High costs: Yes, they cost more than ICE cars, but it’s *depreciation* that really kills EV value. Everyone who’s excited about cheap second-hand Leafs ought to think about that. Mine depreciated 75% in 3 years, over 80% if you include the Federal subsidy.

    3. Duration of charge: Well, my Leaf provided plenty of uncertainty, with its actual range varying anywhere from 60 miles to 36 miles, which depended upon temperature and battery degradation.

    These are real issues, folks. Calling people ignorant and stupid because they speak about their fears of EV adoption doesn’t help solve the problems EVs face. It’s ironic that the Trump haters here want to blame the pollsters who provided this data.

    (Still waiting for my Model 3…).

    1. TM says:

      True, but title said 60% never heard of EVS, which means they didn’t know the issues mentioned were even issues.

      1. TX NRG says:

        Conclusions drawn from an incorrect title can be incorrect. This article title incorrectly summarized the two multiple choice answers that returned the 60% response. It ignores the ‘don’t know much about them’ response!

        From a December C&D article on the survey analysis: The survey of 2557 Americans asked, “Which of the following best describes your knowledge of electric vehicles?” About 60 percent picked the multiple-choice answers “I’ve never heard of electric vehicles” or “I’ve heard of electric vehicles but I don’t know much about them.”

  16. It’s not that we don’t know about them it’s the car dealers that have been killing the electric car. The dealers charge $1000’s more for electric cars vs fossil fuel models of the same brand and body style. Then the rebates and discounts mainly favor the fossil fuels again. Finally, coupled with sealers who struggle to provide customers with any indepth information on the vehicle. Get the dealers out of the way or put the electric cars on an even playing ground as gas guzzlers and there’ll be a huge surge in the electric car market.

    1. TM says:

      They aren’t killing the electric car. Sorry, but they don’t have that kind of leverage.

      Volt, Bolt, Model S, Prius Prime are selling all their companies make.

  17. Colonel Mustard says:

    I have never met a person who doesn’t know that electric vehicles exist and can be purchased. I have met a lot of crazy Tesla fanboys who would believe a story that claimed that 60℅ of people don’t know EVs exist though.

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