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AAA Survey: Americans lack the full story about EVs, so buying lags interest

The American Automobile Association(AAA)’s third-annual survey of American consumer attitudes about electric vehicles found that even though many expressed interest in them and 16% said they are likely to buy an EV for their next car, few are buying the electric powered vehicles available now. The AAA survey data also indicated consumers lack knowledge about EVs even when they express interest.

“Today, more than 200,000 electric cars can be found on roads across the country as almost every manufacturer sells them,” said AAA director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations Greg Brannon. “But, like other new vehicle technologies, Americans don’t have the full story and that could be causing the gap between interest and action.”

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One sign of a lack of consumer education about electric vehicles was that while 40% believe that most cars will be powered by electricity by 2029, an earlier AAA survey about autonomous vehicles found that more than half of the population believes most vehicles will be able to operate without drivers in the same year.

Generational factors figure in whether consumers are more prone to consider an EV for their next vehicle purchase, whether new or used. Millennials (23%) are more like to buy an EV than Generation X consumers (17%), and both younger generations far exceed the proportion of Baby Boomers (8%) who expect be in the market for an electric car, truck, or SUV.

Among consumers who are inclined by purchase an EV, concern for the environment was mentioned most often (74%) as a critical factor. Survey respondents could choose more than one influencing factor. Other important reasons Americans would consider electric vehicles were lower long-term costs (56%), cutting edge technology (45%), and access to the carpool lane (21%).

Among consumers who would likely not buy an EV or who were unsure, the most frequent reasons were not enough places to charge (58%), concerns about running out of charge while driving (57%), and driving ranges that were not suitable for long road trips (57%).

The AAA survey of 1,000 interviews conducted from April 4-7, 2019 included cell phones and landline calls with adults 18 and older. The survey results were balanced by age, gender, geographic region, race/ethnicity, and landline versus cell phone-only communicators to represent the U.S. continental population accurately.

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