In April, a survey of 1.213 people conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Consumers Union found that 55% of California residents “are likely to consider an EV in their next vehicle purchase or lease.” For people living in the Northeast, the number fell to just 35%.
Californians told the researchers they are interested in SUVs and minivans, not just sedans. The survey included people living in the other 9 states that have adopted the emissions regulations adopted by the California Air Resources Board. Those states are drivers in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
“There’s a real market opportunity for automakers to offer electric vehicles to the millions of California consumers who are ready to go electric,” says Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for Consumers Union.
The survey uncovered some disturbing news for EV advocates. In California, three quarters of those who responded to the survey said they didn’t know about the federal and state incentives available to EV buyers. In all states, the most common reasons given for not considering an EV were a lack of charging stations available to recharge them away from home and concerns about running out of battery power while away from home, commonly known as range anxiety.
Another reason given frequently was the lack of EV cars available for test drives at dealerships. 88% said they would not consider buying an EV without a test drive.
The lack of information about EV usage is hard to believe. The survey showed many people were unaware they could charge an EV on a regular home outlet, that driving an EV can reduce dependence on oil, or that an EV is often cheaper to operate than a vehicle with an internal combustion engine.
All of which goes to show that manufacturers, dealers, and government agencies are doing a dismal job of educating consumers about electric vehicles. “With better vehicle availability and consumer awareness, automakers could serve the millions of Northeast consumers who are open to going electric,” says Baker-Branstetter.
Consumer Reports adds its own take. Its surveys show that those who buy an electric car are generally quite happy with them. Tesla owners are 97% satisfied. Chevy Volt owners report 82% owner satisfaction and 76% of Nissan LEAF owners say they are happy with their cars.
The bottom line is that most manufacturers and dealers continue to view electric vehicles as a necessary evil forced upon them by regulators. They are scared to death these cars will eat into current sales and torpedo profit margins.
They seem to have little interest in promoting the cars, which puts the burden on consumers to find out about them on their own. If car makers had their way, electric cars wouldn’t become generally accepted in the marketplace until after the next time Halley’s Comet appears in the sky.
Source and photo credit: Consumer Reports