Survey Says: Consumer Interest In Electric Cars Continues To Grow

OCT 22 2016 BY MARK KANE 34

The Consumer Federation of America reports that interest in electric cars continues to grow (which we have to say also seems fairly obvious to anyone following the plug-in sales trends month-to-month).

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Clearly the fact there are more and more models arriving on the market all the time, while at the same time prices are getting more competitive (especially in terms of price per mile of range) is helping speed adoption.

Plug-in vehicles’ optimistic future is also indicated by the fact that EVs are getting more popular among with young adults.

Jack Gillis, CFA Director of Public Affairs and author of The Car Book said:

“Consumer interest in buying electric vehicles is growing at the same time these vehicles are becoming more available and more attractive. It does not surprise us that electric vehicle sales have grown more rapidly in their first four years than did those of hybrid vehicles,”

In the Consumer Federation of America’s second annual survey, interest in purchasing an EV has increased from 31% to 36%.

“For the second year, CFA commissioned ORC International to conduct a national survey on consumer attitudes toward EVs. A representative sample of 1,007 adult Americans was surveyed by cell phone and landline in late August. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.

The survey revealed growing interest in purchasing an electric vehicle, rising from 31 percent in 2015 to 36 percent in 2016. Among different age groups, young adults (18-34) are most interested, with a full 50 percent saying they would consider buying an electric vehicle.

The more consumers say they know about EVs, the greater their interest in purchasing one. Among survey respondents who consider themselves very knowledgeable about electric vehicles, 55 percent are interested in buying an EV. Among those who say they have no knowledge of EVs, only 22 percent are interested in buying one.”

Nissan IDS Concept

Nissan IDS Concept

The 200 mile range is especially appreciated, moreso if only final price would be on par with gas-powered car:

“The survey also asked consumers, “The next time you buy or lease a car, would you consider an electric vehicle if it costs the same as a gas-powered car, has lower operating and maintenance costs, has a 200 mile range between charges, and can recharge in less than an hour?” In response to this question, 57 percent said they would be interested in purchasing this EV. For those who say they know a lot about EVs, the figure was 62 percent. And for young adults, the figure was 70 percent.

“As the younger buyers enter the market, more attractive EVs are made available, and consumers learn more about these vehicles, interest in purchasing them is likely to grow significantly,” said CFA’s Gillis.

This survey question approximates the kind of vehicle that is expected to be available for consumer purchase in the very near future. The upcoming Chevrolet Bolt ($30,000)[1] and Tesla Model 3 ($27,500)[2] are expected to arrive on the market in 2017, and will match the criteria outlined in the question, with charging estimates via DC Fast Charge of one to two hours.”

Because there is clear link between interest in EVs and knowledge and understanding of EVs, here is “The Car Book’s Snapshot Guide to Electric Vehicles“:

source: Consumer Federation of America

Categories: General


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34 Comments on "Survey Says: Consumer Interest In Electric Cars Continues To Grow"

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We desperately need higher demand for EVs yesterday.

Demand is potentially overwelming, it’s the offer that is ill-oriented.
Too expensive (sometime +twice the price), ridiculous range, ridiculous AER range, dealers hiding cars, diverting customers to gas cars, companies not producing enough, advertising and marketing almost inexistent… People are not so dumb!

Well said. It’s not demand, it’s the product, the price, and the public pump (DCFC) that need to improve still. It’s obvious it will all be there at some point in the next ~10 years, but good things take time.

Demand is encouraged using tax credits which will run out for the S, X and 3 in two years.

The Tesla S and X sell more vehicles due to the tax credit, but they don’t really need it at this point. It is way less than 10% of the sales price for most of these cars.
Given Chevy’s poor reputation with small cars, they do need the credit for another couple years, due to it being like taking 20% off the sales price of the Volt and the Bolt.
But how much do you want to bet that within a week of Chevy having the credit cut in half, we will see the MSRP and the actual sales prices drop by $3750? They probably were losing a little money on each base Volt sold in 2011, even at $40k each. But they are making money on even the base Volts now, and they are selling around $30k before credits.

Teslas sell because they give more for the buck and because THEY ARE CLEAN EFFICIENT POWERFUL LONGLASTING CARS.

I agree, but you can’t ignore the cachet that Tesla brings to the table. I think Tesla is going to stay trendy because they build a very nice car that is both super quick and green. And that is a very nice combination.
But they are cool because they are trendy, and trendy now isn’t always cool tomorrow. Given the vision Tesla has always brought to the table I think they are going to go from strength to strength for at least 5 or 6 more years. I think the III will be late and cost more than Tesla predicts, and I bet it will be a very popular, well built, much loved car that will sell in large numbers.

It will come. We just need AFFORDABLE EVs with the 200+ mile range & DC fast-charging.

We are almost there. Bolt and Model 3 are close but not quite. Model 3 will probably end up costing more. The Bolt needs better fast charging than 50KW CCS. Those two are the next big step.

But we are almost there.

Spec, I think you are right that when the base III shows up, it will probably be closer to $40k than to $35k. Elon overpromises and underdelivers, but even so, at $39k the III will be a very good car, especially if it does arrive under $40k.
And when it arrives, Chevy will need to drop the price for the Bolt to around $32k to keep their sales up. And GM will probably be able to do that profitably by the time the III finally arrives.

Elon always delivered more than he promised.

Nice guide that, it should help explain electric cars for normal people.

It would be nice to know just how some of the questions were worded. There is 2 levels of interest, one at 57% “If price was comparable to gas version” and the other at 36% without stating price condition. Is the 36% to be taken as to-days price? If so why the large disconnect between 36% interest and just over 1% sales?

Because Tesla is pumping out vehicles at a rate of only 2200 per week at this point (for the wealthier buyer), and the competition is building mainly compliance cars, aside from maybe Nissan Leaf. BMW has heard the call and is ramping up EV production, but it takes time. GM has committed to only limited numbers for the Bolt so far, and they are not really mass producing the Volt either. People simply cannot buy something right now that is not produced in high enough numbers. The adoption rate will rise with the introduction of the Model 3 (when production has been ramped up).

Your argument might be valid if EV are constantly sold out, which was the case for SparkEV in latter half of 2015. But the fact is, most EV are plenty available, yet people don’t buy them. GM initially though Volt would sell well only to find out that it didn’t. Now they are more cautious of sales projections. Given the lack of demand for EV (~1%) while many sit on dealer lots, it’s not surprising.

Lack of demand despite interest is due to the fear of the unknown. EV is something you have to experience in person to appreciate, not just read about it. As more people drive EV (I mean the ones with DCFC), it will become more familiar with people, and that “range anxiety” is non-issue.

You always seem to make me put on a grin when I read a comment about you supporting the Chevrolet Spark EV.

I’m not insulting you in anyway, this is a compliment.

Not sure how that’s a compliment, but thanks?

The comment wasn’t really in support of SparkEV, but an example of what supply constraint would be, which isn’t the case for most EV. I could’ve said the same about 30 kWh Leaf when it first came out, but Nissan ramped up production quick enough to meet the demand, unlike the dumb-dumbs at GM who took half a year to catch up. I mean, go to their web site only to show “no SparkEV available within 250 miles of your zip code” for half a year (2015) when that zip code is Southern California is just plain dumb. That doesn’t happen with other EV.

I’d say that just shows that GM built the Spark EV mainly as a compliance car, probably losing money on each one with little prospect of sales going high enough to ever turn a profit. It was a learning experience for them and a compliance car.

The Volt they did initially aim for relatively high production and sales, but we have to remember the economic environment it was released into in December 2010: the depths of the Great Recession – the worst financial crisis in 80 years. That was not a time when most people were paying a premium for fancy stuff, so no wonder that the compact, four seat $31,000 (after tax credit) Volt didn’t sell.

I don’t think we should ignore the campaign against the Volt from the Hard Right, which was at least partially funded by Big Oil. Surely that is at least one of the significant causes for lower sales than GM expected.

Rarely if ever have I seen such a widespread propaganda campaign against any commercial product, aside from a few which are actually bad for your health (like cigarettes).

Push, I hear you but remember who pushed for and signed into law the Energy Security Act of 2007 that mandated the $7500 tax credit for electric cars. It was George W Bush.
There wouldn’t be a Chevy Volt or a Nissan Leaf without W’s vision.
The bailout of GM gave the GOP leadership a bogeyman to rail against, but even with that Governor Perry of Texas and other GOP leaders have pushed for electric cars and wind power.
There are a lot of conservatives that are advocates of electric cars, despite what the leadership says. Like most people, I only agree with the party I usually vote for about 2/3’s of the time.
No one but a party zealot gets a party that is “correct” all the time.

SparkEV has about the same size battery as Volt, but it’s smaller car and no gas engine. It’s also a mod of existing car (SparkGas body + Volt bits), unlike new development for Volt. If you take those points into consideration, SparkEV is probably quite profitable; much of the engineering’s been done already and very little is left to amortize over volume.

As for Volt sales, Volt sells less than gas version of Spark even today when we’re long past 2010 economic turmoil. We have to keep things in perspective, and the fact is demand isn’t there for most EV other than Tesla. But that will change as I wrote above.

It’s just consideration, meaning that the person doesn’t dismissing it out of hand. The fact is that cost, range and utility are all issues for sales. But better vehicles are coming.

Hybrid consideration is around 50%.

Sales are lower than they easily could be because in a lot of places they are nearly impossible to find. Take away compliance states and it is hard to find EVs. Even people in some of the Eastern compliance states say that EVs are hard to find.

The guide is pretty good, but interesting that as a 2017 guide it does not include the 90 Ah BMW and no mention of the Bolt

the Bolt is not currently available and i assume that the 90Ah bmw i3 was not available at the time of printing.

I have my Bolt on order with an early Nov build date and delivery mid to late December. In any case, this is titled as 2017 guide and the Bolt and new i3 should have been included as the information has been readily available for some time.
Model 3 could be included, but so much is unknown that I can see leaving it out.

what i have been seeing is an increasing number of gen1 Volts on the road. i have only seen 1 gen2 Volt. that suggests to me that, based on my observations, people are buying used Volts (or people are buying new gen1 Volts on clearance).

I see probably more Gen 2 Volts than Gen 1.

Amazing electric cars were first before gas powered just think about that ? People would buy more electric cars if the cost compare to gas they should be same ?

I am sure this survey only cost $20M!!

If supply could keep up electric vehicle sales would double or more. In our state of AZ we can only get a few EV vehicles. They don’t sell the SPARK EV, FIAT 500e, VW eGolf or many others. If you want a FORD Focus EV you have too look long and hard and not get what you want in options. It has been very limited in most states.

The Bolt won’t quite reach the specs of “costs the same as a gas-powered car, has lower operating and maintenance costs, has a 200 mile range between charges, and can recharge in less than an hour?”

Compare the Bolt to its hot hatch competition and you’ll find the Bolt is about $5,000 more expensive. I.e. Focus ST, Golf GTI, Juke NISMO.

And it won’t fully recharge in less than an hour.

The Model 3 should meet the specs, and that’s why it has a good chance to be the first EV mainstream volume seller.

I recently heard that the German automakers (the whole lot of them, BMW, Daimler, VW and its associates Audi and Porsche) are apparently negotiating to build a CCS supercharging network (several 100 locations with up to 30 stalls each, capable of up to 350 kW) throughout the main travelling routes in Europe, apparrently on their own cost. It looks like Teslas efforts with the installation of a supercharger network are finally paying off, and others copy that approach. However, I still believe it only if I see it in real life.

i’m skeptical of what you heard. not only do these companies get the bulk of their sales in ICEVs (so there is no urgent need for them to invest in charging networks), but those same companies are investing in fuel cell research (so they aren’t even committed to BEVs the way that tesla is). the only way that i can see these companies doing what you suggest is if they are getting incentives from the government.

Well no comment, some guy’s predicting makes a lot of sense.

With Tesla starting to erode MB’s high end sales of S class cars and the soon to be here Model 3 will devastate the German’s luxury sales in the mid-range market.

Tesla at this point and into at least the near future is generally going after the markets that the Germans (once) dominated in.

It would make a lot of sense for them to band together and start a compelling DCFC network so they could at least compete with Tesla once they have their own compelling BEVs.