UMTRI Says EV Acceptance Going Up, Up, Up


Some people say numbers don’t lie. Some say they do – damn lies, and statistics. Whichever side of the divide you come down on, there are some new numbers out about the potential fate of electric vehicles. Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) have put together a study looking at the acceptance rate of EVs in the in the U.S., and there’s a lot in there to encourage EV fans.

Let’s start with the key takeaway from the abstract (PDF) of Electric vehicles in the U.S.:  Progress toward broader acceptance:

Overall, recent advances and improvements in several of these areas have led to PEVs becoming increasingly more competitive with conventional gasoline-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Furthermore, future costs of the vehicles and fuel, coupled with rising public interest and increasing numbers of charging locations, are expected to make such vehicles even more capable of replacing ICE vehicles for the majority of U.S. drivers in the relatively near future.

That sets the tone of the whole thing, which finds that a lot of the underlying numbers in the EV world, things like public charging stations (around 16,000 in the U.S. today) and median price for internal combustion vehicles vs. BEVs and PHEVs ($35,000 vs. $39,160 and $44,795, respectively), are all moving in the “more EVs” direction.

There are other promising lines in the report, if you think there should be more EVs in the world: “The prices of PEVs are expected to become comparable to prices for the average ICE vehicle in the next several years, especially in Europe” and “Public opinion is generally positive regarding acceptance of PEVs.”

The problems the authors identify are ones most readers are familiar with, I’m sure. Things like not understanding how to compare MPG with gasoline-gallon equivalent (GGE) and – surprise – range anxiety.

Source: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (PDF)

Categories: General


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4 Comments on "UMTRI Says EV Acceptance Going Up, Up, Up"

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I suppose whether one sees this as a glass-half-full situation or a glass-half-empty one, depends on how fast one thinks the EV revolution should be progressing.

On the one hand, as someone who’s been hoping to see the gasmobile become obsolete since he was a teenager in the sixties, I find it wonderful to be experiencing the EV revolution as it happens. On the other hand, to see PEV sales in the USA only recently inch past the 1% mark (1% of all “light duty” passenger vehicles sold) some 9 years after Tesla first started selling its Roadster, is a pretty disappointing rate of progress.

Considering back in the early 2000s the manufacturers crushed all their EVs, and a lot of the EVs on the market at that time were quite limited in terms of performance, I think things are going great now. EVs are competitive in terms of performance and soon as range reaches 200-300 miles, they will start to catch on.

I get impatient, too, and I think we’re around the same age. But then I remind myself of how new technologies often take over a market: They developed, get lots of attention, capture only a tiny slice of the market, the technology improves and gets cheaper, and then hits a takeoff point. I’ve seen it play out repeatedly over the years. My guess is that the reduction in battery prices has brought us right to the brink of the Big Bang moment for EVs. Sure, we still have a lot of work to do in educating the masses about the benefits of EVs, but for the most part, we’ve (finally!) arrived.

As a 100% pessimist, I say HALF FULL!
The US vehicle market was until recently the world’s biggest, so inertia has been a massive blockage. But the dam is about to crack; had Musk not taken up the challenge, EV’s would still be as common as hen’s teeth…