AAA: 1-in-5 U.S. Drivers Want an Electric Vehicle

Press Release via AAA

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WALNUT CREEK, Calif. American appetite for electric vehicles is heating up. A new AAA survey shows that 20 percent — or 50 million Americans — will likely go electric for their next vehicle purchase, up from 15 percent in 2017.

With lower-than-average ownership costs, increased driving ranges and the latest advanced safety features, AAA sees a strong future for electric vehicles. To help “green” car shoppers make an informed choice, AAA conducts independent, rigorous test-track evaluations of plug-in hybrids, hybrid and fuel-efficient, gas-powered vehicles.

“Electric cars are cheaper, more reliable and can travel farther every year, and more Americans are noticing,” said Michael Blasky, spokesman for AAA Northern California. “AAA sees a strong future for electric cars, and consumers are showing that they agree.”

The survey found:

  • One-fifth (20%) of Americans say they are likely to buy an electric vehicle the next time they are in the market for a new or used vehicle, an increase from 15 percent over 2017.
  • Americans who are likely to buy an electric vehicle would do so out of concern for the environment (80%), lower long-term costs (67%), cutting edge technology (54%) and access to the carpool lane (35%)
  • Women (90%) are more likely to buy an electric vehicle out of concern for the environment over men (68%).
  • Three in 10 adults (31%) say they are likely to buy a hybrid vehicle the next time they are in the market for a new or used vehicle. This level of interest is unchanged form 2017.
  • Reliability and fuel economy/range are the most important criteria for consumers when choosing which hybrid or electric vehicle to buy.
  • Nine-in-ten (92%) Americans who are likely to buy an electric or hybrid vehicle, consider reliability important, followed by fuel economy or how far the vehicle can go on one charge (87%).
  • Other considerations include crash rating (77%), cost (71%), vehicle performance (69%), and advanced safety technology such as automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance (60%).

AAA’s survey found that “range anxiety” is beginning to ease. Among those unsure or unwilling to choose an electric vehicle for their next car:

  • 63 percent (down 9 percent from 2017) cited not enough places to charge as a detractor;
  • 58 percent (down 15 percent from 2017) expressed concern over running out of charge while driving.
  • Not surprisingly, range anxiety is less of a concern for millennials (48 percent) than Generation X or Baby Boomers (64 percent and 66 percent, respectively).

While range is important to most (87 percent) electric and hybrid vehicle shoppers, it is not the only consideration. Reliability is king with nine-in-ten (92 percent) of those likely to by an electric or hybrid vehicle stating it is important when evaluating which car to buy.

Electric and hybrid car shoppers are also prioritizing crash ratings (77 percent), cost (71 percent), acceleration and handling (69 percent) and advanced safety technology such as automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance (60 percent). Fewer drivers are concerned with style, color, or design of the vehicle (34 percent) or brand of the vehicle (33 percent). Full survey results are available here.

In 2018, the following vehicles earned AAA’s Top Green Vehicle award:

Category Vehicle
Overall Tesla Model X 75D
Subcompact Car Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
Compact Car Nissan Leaf SL
Midsize Car BMW 530e i-Performance
Large Car Tesla Model S 75
Pickup Ford F-150 4X4 XLT Sport
SUV/Minivan Tesla Model X 75D
Best Under $30K Kia Niro LX
Best $30K – $50K Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier
Best Over $50K Tesla Model X 75D

Winners, detailed evaluation criteria, vehicle reviews and an in-depth analysis of the green vehicle industry can be found at AAA.com/greencar.

Although Americans may be more eager to buy an electric vehicle, having the right infrastructure will be critical to its widespread adoption. In 2018, the availability of charging stations had grown to more than 16,000 in the United States and, although anxiety over range has reduced,  AAA’s survey found consumer expectation for charging time while on the road may not align with reality. Seven-in-ten (68 percent) Americans feel that while out driving, a charging time of no more than 30 minutes is a reasonable amount of time to wait.

“Today’s drivers are accustomed to a quick fill up at the corner gas station, but electric vehicle charging can sometimes take several hours,” said Blasky. “With a little planning, electric vehicle owners can avoid a roadside inconvenience and, as technology improves, charging times will too.”

Drivers can access charging station locations through AAA’s Mobile app or TripTik Planner. Additional survey data, study methodology, graphics, photos and video can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

AAA Northern California offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to its 4 million members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 117 years ago.  Visit AAA.com for more information.


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