Woman charging her electric vehicle while checking messages on her iphone.

50% Of Drivers Are Interested In Buying an Electric Car, So What’s Stopping Them?

David Collins6-minute read
May 18, 2022

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As the quality and sheer number of different electric cars continues to rise in the early 2020s, Americans have better options than ever to purchase a fully electric vehicle. But a recent survey of 3,000 drivers conducted by Rocket AutoSM found that currently only 7.2% of drivers own an electric car, while just 19.4% say their next car will be an electric vehicle (EV).

In the past, an EV’s initial cost, range anxiety, charging anxiety, and just overall lack of consumer knowledge of EVs have been the greatest barriers to electric car adoption. Despite the prices of EVs decreasing, greater range in electric vehicles, and more charging infrastructure available, Rocket Auto found that these familiar concerns are still holding consumers back from going electric.

The Barriers To Electric Car Adoption Haven’t Disappeared In 2022

Like any new technology, from the beginning EVs have faced specific barriers to adoption. The biggest obstacle has been cost, historically driven by the prohibitive cost of the battery — by far the most expensive single component in an electric vehicle. Despite EVs becoming more affordable while prices of gas-powered cars — both new and used — have been rising in recent years, 58.4% of drivers said the price of an EV is too high.

Infographic of barriers to electric car adoption.

Right behind overall vehicle price, anxiety about running out of battery charge due to lack of charging stations was also strong — with 50.2% of drivers citing this as one of their top three barriers to buying electric. Battery range was also crucial, with 36.6% stating that the distance (or lack of distance) an EV can travel on a full charge still causes trepidation.

48% Of Drivers Believe The Lowest Cost EV Is Over $30,000

Base prices on electric cars are becoming more competitive compared to traditional gas-powered vehicles, especially when factoring in the substantial government tax credits available to EV buyers. This has become even more evident in 2022. As supply chain- and pandemic-related problems continue to confront the worldwide auto industry, the average price of a new car in the U.S. has jumped to $47,100. This would seem to make electric cars more appealing to consumers. The MSRP for the 2022 Nissan Leaf, for instance, starts at just $27,400 for a base model, but that drops effectively to less than $20,000 if drivers qualify for tax credits. Of course, that’s the price for a car with a range of just 149 – 226 miles per charge and EV prices rise quickly as batteries get more powerful.

Still, there is a perception that EVs are more expensive than gas-powered cars. Overall, drivers believe that EVs have a minimum median cost of $30,000 – $40,000. Nearly half of drivers, however, believe that the lowest cost EV is more than $30,000, with 22.5% stating that the average base price range of an EV is $40,000 – $70,000.

Further Consumer Education Is Needed On Gas-Electric Price Discrepancy

While more than half of drivers (52.8%) said they would be interested in purchasing an electric car in the future, they give the impression that they do not believe electric cars should be as expensive as their gas counterparts. When asked what they would be willing to pay for an electric car, the median price they cited $20,000 – $30,000 — this is a discrepancy of $10,000 – $20,000 between what they would pay and what they believe the actual cost is. It is also far less than the average price of all cars bought in America.

This suggests that more people might seriously consider electric car sales if manufacturers improved consumer education and awareness around competitive pricing and the benefits of significant tax credits.

Infographic chart of home much drivers will pay for an EV

71% Of Drivers Think Electric Batteries Won’t Last More Than 5 Years

Almost all of the positives and negatives surrounding the efficacy of electric cars have to do with the battery. On the plus side, electricity is cheaper than gasoline, so an electric car is cheaper to operate. Further, everything outside of the battery is significantly simpler on an electric vehicle. There are fewer parts to an electric car than a traditional gas-powered vehicle, which has hundreds of intricate mechanical engine parts that are costly to engineer and manufacture.

The negatives to battery power center on battery life (how many miles can the car go before the entire battery must be replaced, at a very high cost) and battery range (how far the car can go on a full battery charge).

Advances in battery technology have led to longer lasting batteries in recent years. Current warranties offered by manufacturers of electric cars cover their batteries for about 8 years. The warranty on a Tesla Model 3 with a standard or midrange battery, for example, covers the car’s battery for 8 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. This reflects the manufacturer’s confidence that the battery will likely meet or surpass these limits. But this might come as a surprise to the Rocket Auto survey participants, 71% of whom responded that the battery in an EV will last 5 years or less, with 36.4% saying 3 years or less.

Infographic representation of drivers perception on how long EV batteries last.

When asked how many miles they believe an EV’s battery will last, almost one quarter said less than 10,000 miles and nearly half (44.5%) said only between 10,000 and 40,000 miles. This indicates a significant gap in consumer confidence in EV batteries and how the batteries perform.

Almost Half Of Drivers Still Think An EV’s Charge Will Last Less Than 200 Miles

When looking at drivers’ perceptions of EV battery range, there are differences between how many miles an EV will go on a single charge and how far consumers believe that it can. How far an EV can actually go on a charge varies widely depending mostly on vehicle weight and battery power (standard, mid-range, long-range) — some can go more than 500 miles, while others need to be recharged after just 100 miles. In 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency found that the median range of a new EV was 234 miles per charge. When compared to gas-powered cars, this is respectable. Most gas-powered cars can go about 300 – 400 miles on a tank of gas, again varying widely based on fuel efficiency and the size of the gas tank. But nearly half of survey respondents (46.7%) believe that an EV will go less than 200 miles, and nearly one-fifth think it’s less than 100 miles.

Of course, charging an electric car is more problematic than filling up at the gas tank. While there are filling stations seemingly everywhere, it can be much harder to find a charging station, especially in rural areas. And second, it takes longer to charge up an EV. There are so many factors affecting charging time (battery size, type of charging station used, percentage charge needed to reach 100%), that this data is hard to quantify. What is interesting, though, is how people who own an electric car view charging time versus those who have never owned an EV. The median response from those who drive an electric car was that it takes 46 – 59 minutes per charge. Of those who have never had an EV, the median response was between 1 and 2 hours.

Infographic representation of perception of how long most drivers think it takes to charge an EV.

In 65% Of Situations Drivers Believe Gas Cars Perform Better Than EVs

As electric vehicles continue to improve in most traditional performance metrics, they still have a lot of ground to make up in terms of consumer confidence. When asked which type of car performed best in 20 different driving applications, respondents preferred a gas-powered car over an EV in 13 of them.

Better consumer education might help win over some electric car skeptics. In terms of speed and power, for instance, electric cars are now equal to if not surpassing traditional electric cars. In a recent test by Motor Trend magazine, the Tesla Model S Plaid achieved an astonishing 1,020 horsepower and went from 0 – 60 mph in 2.1 seconds—faster than the top Ferrari. Despite the surprising capabilities of electric vehicles, however, nearly 70% of those surveyed said that gas outperforms electric for speed and power. Other areas where gas power was favored were off-road and snowy driving as well as towing.

Aspects of driving that favored electric vehicles in the survey — aside from environmental considerations and saving money on gas — were city/suburban driving and commuting, suggesting that consumers see value in electric cars for short trips on pavement.

Methodology

To understand drivers’ perceptions of EVs, Rocket Auto surveyed 3,000 drivers. Drivers were asked questions to decern their barriers to adoption and their willingness to get an electric car in the future. The sample was controlled to ensure there was an even split of men and women surveyed. The survey was conducted online from March 7 – March 18, 2022.

David Collins

David Collins is a staff writer for Rocket Auto with experience in publishing as well as communications, public relations, and web content creation for automotive manufacturing. He has a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan.