Despite lower gas prices, a new AAA study reveals that consumer interest in electric vehicles remains high, with the survey showing that more than 30-million Americans are likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next car.
With rising sales, longer ranges and lower costs, AAA predicts a strong future for electric vehicles, and announces the top electric, hybrid and other efficient vehicles in its independent, rigorous test-track evaluation.
“With their lower ownership costs and compatibility with emerging autonomous technologies, electric vehicles are poised to be a key vehicle of the future,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering. “Tesla—a standout in AAA’s evaluations—has helped widen the appeal of electric vehicles by showing they can be stylish, performance-focused and filled with cutting-edge technology.”
Despite the fact that gas prices are about 40-percent lower than five years ago, AAA found that consumer interest in electric vehicles and hybrids has not waned. In fact, the number of Americans interested in an electric vehicle approaches the number planning to purchase a pickup truck, with the survey showing that 15 percent are likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next car. Millennials are even more accepting of electric vehicles, with nearly one-in-five interested in going electric for their next car.
Concern for the environment remains the primary motivating factor for electric vehicle shoppers, but AAA also found that lower long-term costs, desire for the latest technology and access to car pool lanes are all influential. With their extended range and flexibility, hybrid vehicles are also desirable to Americans, with nearly one third (32 percent) likely to buy the gasoline- and battery-powered alternative.
Beyond electric and hybrid vehicles, AAA’s survey found that fuel economy remains a major purchase consideration for all U.S. drivers, with 70-percent rating it as an important factor in selecting any vehicle—equal to the importance of the cost, crash rating and performance—ahead of safety technology (50 percent), brand (48 percent), style, color and design (46 percent) and smartphone connectivity (34 percent).
While electric vehicles are an attractive option for car shoppers, AAA found that more than half of Americans are hesitant to make the switch due to range anxiety—the concern over running out of charge or having too few locations to charge a vehicle. This fear persists despite the fact that U.S. drivers report an average round-trip commute length (31 miles) and time (46 minutes) that are well within the range of the more than 100 miles of range that most electric vehicles offer.
“Range anxiety stems from seeing gas stations, not charging stations, on every corner,” Brannon said. “While electric vehicles may not yet fit every lifestyle, the number of charging stations has quadrupled over the last five years and battery ranges support average commutes.”