July 18, 2019

New Survey Shows Strong Support for Electric Vehicles Across Economic Spectrum

Drivers Want Policymakers and Automakers to Help Make It Easier to Drive Electric

WASHINGTON (July 18, 2019)—The electric vehicle market may be poised for accelerating growth, according to a new survey of prospective car buyers, and consideration of getting electric vehicles is fairly consistent across regions and income groups.

The survey, conducted by Consumer Reports (CR) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), shows that 63 percent of prospective car buyers in America have some interest in electric vehicles. Breaking this down, 31 percent would consider one for their next purchase, 27 percent would consider one at some point down the road, and 5 percent say they are definitely planning on buying or leasing one for their next vehicle. This later number would mark a noticeable escalation in electric car purchases in the U.S., which made up about two percent of new car purchases in 2018.

“Automakers and dealers have made little to no effort to market electric cars in the U.S., and yet this survey shows that Americans have widespread interest in them,” says Shannon Baker-Branstetter, manager of cars and energy policy for Consumer Reports. “Car buyers across the economic spectrum are interested in electric cars, but automakers and dealers are not providing consumers with enough information and selection to meet this demand.”

Interest in electric vehicles goes beyond just wealthy consumers: 39 percent of potential buyers making more than $100,000 a year are considering an electric vehicle for their next purchase, but so are 39 percent of those making $50,000 to $99,999 a year and 31 percent of those making under $50,000 a year.

Interest in electric vehicles is also strong among people of color: 42 percent are considering an electric vehicle for their next purchase, compared to 36 percent for all respondents.

“As the electric vehicle market grows, more drivers see an electric vehicle as a realistic option,” said David Reichmuth, senior engineer for the Clean Vehicles Program at UCS. “The future is electric, and that will have real benefits for drivers, for the air we breathe, and for the climate. But we need to accelerate this change, so consumers need states, utilities and automakers to step up and help them make the switch.”

SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS

Americans overwhelmingly want to see more electric cars available to buy, and believe that electric vehicles have real benefits:

  • 72 percent say automakers should provide more kinds of electric vehicles, including SUVs, pickup trucks and minivans.
  • 73 percent say increased electric car use will help reduce oil use.
  • 72 percent say increased electric car use will help reduce pollution.
  • 65 percent say electric cars will help consumers save money on fuel and maintenance.

Policies that would grow the electric car market and help consumers drive electric also draw strong support:

  • Around 75 percent feel that incentives and tax rebates for plug-in electric cars should be available to all consumers in every region and income bracket surveyed.
  • 67 percent say electric utilities should offer discount rates for plug-in electric car charging.
  • 67 percent are supportive of their state investing in electric car charging stations.
  • 64 percent are supportive of their state increasing the use of plug-in electric school buses, public transit, and fleets.

Recent analysis from UCS shows that electric vehicles have a lower climate impact than comparable gasoline vehicles. On average, an electric vehicle charged in the United States has a climate impact equivalent to a gasoline vehicle getting 80 miles per gallon—an advantage that’s only growing as electric vehicle (EV) technology improves and more renewable power comes on to the U.S. electrical grid. UCS analysis also shows it can be cheaper to fuel and maintain an electric vehicle, saving drivers hundreds of dollars every year.

The nationally representative survey had a sample of 1,659 American adults who are considering purchasing or leasing a new or used vehicle within the next two years.

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.