AutoTrader Survey + Infographic: Cost and Battery Concerns Listed Among Top Factors Leading Consumers Away From Plug-In Vehicles


AutoTrader Survey Infographic

AutoTrader Survey Infographic

Survey specifics: conducted survey interviews among site visitors July 10August 27, 2013. Participants were recruited via an invitation and must have been aware of alternative fuel vehicles to qualify for the study. A statistically valid total of 316 completed surveys were collected and analyzed to produce the insights included in this release.

Disclaimer out of the way, let’s now move on to the results.

According to AutoTrader, cost and battery/charging concerns were the most cited issues with plug-in vehicles.

More specifically, AutoTrader says:

“Similar to diesels, cost was among the top factors leading consumers to decide against hybrid and plug-in vehicles, but the degree to which those were concerns was higher for these vehicles. “Too expensive to purchase” was the top reason to decide against both hybrid and plug-in hybrids, at 66 and 71 percent, respectively. For EVs, the price tag came in third, but still at a notable 60 percent. Maintenance was also a top concern affecting the decision, with “Potentially high cost of maintenance” being cited by 55 percent in the hybrid category and 58 percent in both the EV and plug-in hybrid categories.”

“Going beyond cost, concerns about the battery ranked high as well in the reasons consumers would decide against these vehicles, with “Battery life/range” being cited by 52 percent for hybrids, 67 percent for EVs and 64 percent for plug-in hybrids.”

How Autotrader broke out categories makes the results a bit confusing, so here’s the rundown of the top 3 concerns for plug-in vehicle, ignoring the conventional hybrids.

  1. Battery life/range
  2. Concerns of charging stations/locations/availability
  3. Cost

In regards only to plug-in vehicles, AutoTrader got these responses:

“On a follow up question regarding EVs and plug-ins, 59 percent of respondents indicated that EVs would need to get over 150 miles per charge for them to consider the vehicle, and 56 percent said that plug-in hybrids would need to get over 80 miles on a single charge for them to consider the vehicle. Even so, the mere act of plugging in a vehicle was disconcerting for some, with 31 percent citing “Don’t want to plug in” as a reason to decide against and EV and 40 percent citing the same for plug-in hybrids.”

One more EV-related highlight lowlight from the survey:

“Of those who are aware of each vehicle type, only 53 percent indicated that they are willing to pay a premium for diesels, and the numbers go down from there: 51 percent for hybrids, 41 percent for EVs and 39 percent for plug-in hybrids.”

Let’s close on a strong note with this bit of EV win from the survey:

“Naturally, EVs were cited more frequently for being environmentally friendly and for having cleaner emissions, with the latter being a category that diesels fell far behind in.”

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8 Comments on "AutoTrader Survey + Infographic: Cost and Battery Concerns Listed Among Top Factors Leading Consumers Away From Plug-In Vehicles"

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I think the “don’t want to plug-in” mentality is either from people who don’t have access to a convenient plug, or don’t realize how little time it would take to plug in if you have a wall mounted charging station right next to your car in the garage. Some people may be imagining having to unroll an extension cord every time they want to plug in.

And what is even odder to me is that people have no issue with the concept of plugging in their phone or tablets daily. The human psyche is quite complex.

I doubt it has much to do with that. I think it is more likely that an outlet simply isn’t handy for those people. And there are a lot like that – apartment and condo complexes, many townhouse communities that do no have garages or driveways, just an assigned space in common parking lots (like mine). Lots of access problems at home for plug-ins.

With 316 respondents, seems like AutoTrader had about 10 words and one infographic for each person participating 🙂

Out of the five reasons given not to buy a plugin hybrid three are nonsense:

Too expensive to purchase: yeah sure, if it is a Karma, a Panamera, or an ELR
Battery life/range: it doesn’t really matter, the car switches to gas
Don’t want to plug in: you don’t have to, but will have to fuel up instead — choice is good.

I’d go further than ScottF200, people are morons.

What boggles my mind is the pair of responses that state for hybrids, battery life/range and high maintenance costs were a concern. Seriously?!?!? Are you kidding me?!?

Hybrids, although more complex, have extremely low maintenance. Taxi companies have to replace the transmission at least once, usually twice, for a plain ICE vehicle over the 300,000 mile service life of the car. With hybrids, they usually do NOT have to replace the transmission even once!

Also, hybrids do not need oil changes as often, and the brakes last much longer.

Particularly Toyota and Ford hybrids are very durable (most often used by taxi companies).

People think there’s no advantages for a plug-in hybrid. That’s probably because they don’t know how they work.


Most people that I have talked to may not know a whole lot about electric vehicles, but they have been willing to listen. They are at least interested in finding out more even if they aren’t quite ready to buy one. This means we need to get out there and get talking. People are willing to listen. That’s where current vehicles such as Model S and Leaf are so important, because the give us a good opportunity to talk about something that we are passionate about to people that may not know much about electric vehicles but may have at least heard of a Model S or Leaf.