One of the biggest trends in the automotive world right now is the proliferation and normalization of electric vehicles. It wasn’t long ago that EVs were shunned as short-range lunchboxes on wheels, machines completely devoid of anything resembling sex appeal or style. Brands like Tesla and Rimac have finally made EVs “cool,” but it’s easy to forget that battery-powered cars still have a long road ahead of them to reach mainstream success.
According to a new survey done by ReportLinker, there may be more resistance to the EV revolution than once thought. In short, most Americans don’t see electric cars as a viable alternative to their gas-powered cousins, citing underdeveloped charging infrastructure and high prices as barriers to entry. The standout figure? Eighty-one percent of those surveyed said they wouldn’t consider an EV for their next vehicle purchase.
We should clarify that ReportLinker’s sample size was relatively low, with just 507 respondents voicing their opinion. Also, Tesla fans will be quick to point out that EVs are hotter than ever in 2016. The upcoming Model 3 had one of the biggest product launches in history with some 373,000 pre-orders logged. That said, the lack of chargers outside metropolitan areas remains a major sticking point for consumers, and until they’re as common as corner gas stations, that may not change.
Millennials — who grew up at a time when the notion of plugging in your car at night isn’t as crazy as it once was — have often been identified as the group that will push EVs further into the mainstream. However, fewer and fewer of them are interested in buying a car at all. Many millennials live in cities where public transportation and ridesharing services are viable options, so even though they’re more open to giving up gas for good, they may never entertain the option of purchasing a daily driver in the first place.
Despite everything you’ve just read, the future is quite bright for electric cars. Tesla’s popularity is skyrocketing by the week, and brands like Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, and Volkswagen are investing heavily in battery tech. As with most things, the key to progress is education. In ReportLinker’s survey, just 15 percent associated Toyota with electric vehicles, despite the fact that the Prius is the most successful hybrid of all time. Furthermore, the average driver only commutes 29 miles or so per day, which means concerns over range anxiety are often blown out of proportion.
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