Why Electric Car Demand May Rise to 50 Million

May 8, 2018 by Douglas A. McIntyre

Whatever concerns car companies have about the billions of dollars they are pouring into electric car research and production should have those fears allayed by a new study. It showed that 20% of Americans likely will “go electric” when they buy their next vehicle. The greatest challenge to the industry may be making enough electric cars short term.

A new AAA study shows the percentage of people who plan to have their next car be electric rose from 15% in 2017. The research also shows that among the attractions of these vehicles are the low cost of operations, safety features and improvement in how far they will go without a charge. This range has reached over 250 miles with some models. The Chevy Bolt, for example, has a range of 238 million when it is in its “battery only” mode.

However, the number of miles an electric car can go without a charge may still be a hurdle the industry faces. According to the AAA data, that figure varies by age. The association reported:

Perhaps fueling American’s desire for electric vehicles, AAA’s survey found that “range anxiety” is beginning to ease. Among those unsure or unwilling to choose an electric vehicle for their next car, 63 percent (down 9 percent from 2017) cited not enough places to charge as a detractor while 58 percent (down 15 percent from 2017) expressed concern over running out of charge while driving. Not surprisingly, range anxiety is less of a concern for millennials (48 percent) than Generation X or Baby Boomers (64 percent and 66 percent, respectively).

Among the other considerations mentioned by those surveyed were reliability, which scored 92%, “crash ratings” at 77%, cost at 71% and acceleration at 69%. At the bottom of the list were “style, color, or design” at 34% and brand of the vehicle at 33%.

Another reason electric cars likely will become mainstream is the falling cost to buy one. The new Tesla Model 3 will cost $35,000 before government incentives given to electric car buyers. The Chevy Bolt has a base price of $36,620.

The AAA forecast that 20% of new car buyers are likely to go electric represents 50 million. That number alone shows the production challenge car companies face.