According to a new Ipsos poll, Americans want to take individual actions to combat climate change, but only 30% were willing to buy an electric vehicle. According to a larger global survey on battery electric vehicles (BEVs), the reasons for the lack of consumer uptake were concerns about the higher cost of BEVs, their limited range, and the lack of charging stations – with the price being the most important factor.
Why This Matters: American consumers were only willing to pay an extra 10% for an electric vehicle. Prices will need to come down further for BEVs to reach that price point. It will take a concerted effort to change this mindset — with tax incentives and large government fleet purchases to bring down the cost for consumers, more and more visible charging stations, and a well-designed marketing effort by the industry to overcome “range anxiety.” What this poll demonstrates is that the change to electric vehicles will take time and be particularly challenging in rural areas where charging stations will be fewer and far between.
The Survey Should Be A Guide For Marketing BEVs
On price, the cost of BEVs has to stay within 20% of conventional gas-powered vehicles for consumers to even be willing to consider buying one. Until batteries are cheaper, it will require government incentives and intervention.
On range, the anxiety that consumers have about running out of juice is misplaced. Most Americans drive approximately 170 miles each week, and many BEVs today hold a charge for 200 miles. Thus most consumers would only need to power up once a week — not much different than how often consumers buy gas. Most people are under the misconception that they need to charge their BEVs once a day.
As for charging stations, consumers worry that they won’t be able to locate charging stations when they are out and about. But in fact, the main location for recharging is in the owner’s home and re-charging times are decreasing to an hour or so — much shorter than people realize.
One more important data point from the survey — U.S. consumers have some of the lowest familiarity with BEVs of any surveyed. Only 10% of Americans indicated that they had ridden or looked closely at one. With dozens of new BEV models coming to auto showrooms soon, there is a need to consider how to get drivers behind the wheel if these vehicles are to succeed.