20% of Americans Interested in Buying Electric Cars

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Electric vehicles have come a long way, at least in the minds of new car buyers. According to a new survey out Tuesday from AAA, 20% of Americans (50 million people) say they are likely to buy an electric vehicle at their next purchase. That’s up from 15% in the 2017 survey.

The caveat, of course, is that Americans don’t buy 50 million cars a year. In the past few years the annual sales rate for new cars has been right about 17 million. Of that total, about 560,000 were all-electric, plug-in electric or hybrid electric vehicles. That’s right around 3.2% of sales

While lower-than-average ownership costs, increased driving ranges and the latest advanced safety features offer a strong future for electric vehicles, according to AAA, the top reason that Americans buy electric vehicles is concern for the environment.

Environmental reasons remain the top reason for purchase (80%), followed by lower long-term costs (67%), cutting-edge technology (54%) and access to carpool lane (35%).

Here are several other findings of the AAA survey:

Women (90%) are more likely to buy an electric vehicle out of concern for the environment over men (68%).

Three in 10 adults (31%) say they are likely to buy a hybrid vehicle the next time they are in the market for a new or used vehicle. This level of interest is unchanged form 2017.

Reliability and fuel economy/range are the most important criteria for consumers when choosing which hybrid or electric vehicle to buy.

Other considerations include crash rating (77%), cost (71%), vehicle performance (69%) advanced safety technology such as automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance (60%).

The biggest concern remains range anxiety:

Six-in-ten Americans (63%) who are unlikely (or unsure) to purchase an electric vehicle are concerned there are not enough places to charge. This, however, is down from 69 percent in 2017.

Running out of charge while driving (58% versus 68%) and higher cost to repair or replace the battery (49% versus 55%).

Baby Boomers (66%) and Generation X (64%) are more likely than Millennials (48%) to be concerned about running out of charge while driving.

One other observation from AAA: The availability of charging stations has grown to more than 16,000 in the United States and, although anxiety over range has reduced, AAA’s survey found consumer expectations for charging time while on the road may not align with reality. Seven-in-ten (68%) Americans feel that while out driving, a charging time of no more than 30 minutes is a reasonable amount of time to wait. Nearly half of women and a third of men think a charging time of no more than 15 minutes is reasonable.

The reality is that a fully depleted battery can take several hours to charge on a Level 2 charger and overnight on a charger that operates on ordinary household current.

AAA also listed its 2018 Top Green Vehicle Award winners:

  • Overall: Tesla Model X 75D
  • Subcompact Car: Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
  • Compact Car: Nissan Leaf SL
  • Midsize Car: BMW 530e i-Performance
  • Large Car: Tesla Model S 75
  • Pickup: Ford F-150 4X4 XLT Sport
  • SUV/Minivan: Tesla Model X 75D
  • Best Under $30K: Kia Niro LX
  • Best $30K to $50K: Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
  • Best Over $50K: Tesla Model X 75D
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