EV Early Adopters — Who Are You?

In our third article pulled from Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want — a new report from CleanTechnica, EV Obsession, and GAS2 — I’m jumping into who the respondents of the surveys were. Given that our readers were primarily the respondents, this is basically a look at who you are.

EV driver incomeOne of the four surveys was directed only at current EV owners and lessees (also referred to “EV drivers” in parts of of this report). Two of the four surveys were directed at both EV drivers and potential EV buyers. One survey was directed only at potential buyers yet to purchase or lease their first EV.

Across the board, the respondents from the two main surveys were heavily male and wealthy.

93.5% of EV drivers were male, and 90.5% of potential buyers were male.

58% of EV drivers indicated their annual household income was over $100,000, while 38% of potential owners/lessees indicated the same.

88.5% of EV drivers indicated that their annual household income was over $50,000, while 75% of potential owners/lessees indicated the same. Note that median household income in the US was $53,657 in 2014.

Wannabe EV Income

Respondents were primarily living in the United States, closely matching CleanTechnica, EV Obsession, and GAS2 readership. The figures were:

  • Owners/lessees: 
75.4% live in the US; 
6.8% Canada; 
5.4% the UK; 
2.6% Australia.
  • Potential buyers: 
62.5% live in the US; 
10.1% Canada; 
6.5% Australia; 
5.8% the UK.

EV driver residence EV wannabe residences

Respondents were also primarily living in small towns and big cities (rather than medium-sized cities). The figures were:

  • Owners/lessees: 
27.3% in cities with over 1 million inhabitants; 
29.4% in towns with under 50,000 inhabitants.
  • Potential buyers: 
24.1% in cities with over 1 million inhabitants; 
27.6% in towns with under 50,000 inhabitants.

cities 1 cities 2 The EV drivers had primarily bought their EVs in just the last 3 years, which is what would be expected looking at overall historical EV sales data. This is how our respondents broke down: 41.1% of EV drivers had their EV for under 1 year, another 20.6% for 1 year, another 24.2% for 2 years, and another 10.9% for 3 years. Only 6.4% had an EV for 4 years or more.

no years

Somewhat surprisingly, 20.6% of respondents stated that they have only one car — seemingly indicating that having only an EV is already adequate for many individuals. 45.8% have 2 cars, and 33.6% have more than 2 cars.

no of carsAdmittedly, we did not identify how these percentages were split between owners of plug-in hybrid electric cars (which essentially have no range limitations), Tesla owners (which typically don’t have notable range limitations), and owners of fully electric non-Tesla cars (i.e., fully electric cars with under 100 miles of range on a full charge). In future surveys on this topic, responses should be segmented according to these distinctly different types of EVs.

Even more surprisingly than the point above, though, 76.4% of EV owner/lessee respondents said that they had a good buying experience, while 17% indicated “meh” and only 6.6% indicated not having a good buying experience.

buying experienceGiven the widespread criticism of conventional dealers when it comes to selling EVs, and a number of “horror stories” in that regard, I expected the responses to be much more negative.

Only 22.5% of respondents had a Tesla (a Model S or a Roadster), so that seems to indicate that 69.5% of non-Tesla buyers had a good buying experience (and that’s assuming that every single Tesla buyer had a good buying experience, which is probably not the case… but pretty close). Color me shocked.

PHEV non-ownersAmong the potential first-time EV buyers/lessees, 37% wouldn’t consider a PHEV or EREV. Among those who would consider a PHEV/EREV, 16% want a minimum of 50 miles of electric range, and 14% want a minimum of 60 miles of electric range.

52% of respondents intend to never buy or lease a PHEV/EREV. Of the remaining respondents, the breakdown as far as when they intend to get one is as follows:

  • 23.2% within 1 year
  • 18.5% within 2 years
  • 18.3% within 3 years
  • 7.8% within 4 years
  • 18.6% within 5 years

So, 86.4% of remaining respondents plan to get one within 5 years.

EREV PHEV timeOver 50% of potential first-time buyers plan to buy or lease a fully electric car within the next 3 years, with the general breakdown as follows:

  • 16.5% within 1 year
  • 17.9% within 2 years
  • 21.5% within 3 years
  • 7.5% within 4 years
  • 16.5% within 5 years

So, 72% of remaining respondents plan to get a pure EV within 5 years.

As far as buying vs leasing, 71% of owners/lessees would buy rather than lease their next EV, while 69% of potential owners plan to only buy, 15% plan to only lease, and 15% plan to both buy and lease. Among existing EV drivers, 60% only bought their EVs, 34% only leased, and 5% did both.

Regarding buying new versus used, 65% of respondents plan to get a new EV, 22% plan to get a used EV, and 13% don’t know yet.

Beyond questions about their cars and potential cars, we asked respondents a few questions regarding energy efficiency and solar power. As expected, responses from EV drivers indicated that driving electric does improve ones efficiency.

Specifically, with regard to driving efficiency, we asked, “Does owning/leasing an EV make you drive more efficiently (not counting the efficiency boost you get simply from driving electric)?” 70% of respondents said that it does. 6% weren’t sure, and only 24% said, “No.”

energy efficient driving

Regarding energy conservation at home, we asked, “Does owning/leasing an EV make you conserve energy in your home more?” 41% of people responded, “Yes,” 17% “Not Sure,” and 42% “No.”

energy conservation

In terms of solar power, 37.5% of current EV drivers have home solar panels, while 21% of potential EV drivers have home solar panels. Clearly, these percentages are much higher than for the populace at large.

solar owners solar non-owners

You can download the full report here.

Report sponsors include Cost of Solar, Plugless Power, the Low Voltage Vehicle Electrification Event, and Pono Home.

Zachary Shahan

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.