There are several notable companies making all-electric vehicles, but among them, Tesla remains the undisputed leader when it comes to raising awareness for EVs.
This was recently reflected in a study from Atlanta-based Cox Automotive, which surveyed 2,503 consumers comprised of electric car owners, EV considerers and EV non-considerers, as well as 308 franchised dealers, to determine the gap between consumers’ and dealers’ barriers and expectations with the current EV realities in the United States.
Based on the results of the study, 81 percent of car buyers who were open to acquiring an electric car listed Tesla as a vehicle that they were considering for purchase. The gap between Tesla and veteran automakers is notable, with the second place, Toyota, far behind at 52 percent. Chevrolet was listed by 47 percent of potential EV buyers, Nissan was listed by 42 percent, and Honda was listed by a mere 39 percent of EV considerers.
In a conference call with reporters, Cox Automotive Mobility Group manager of Research & Market Intelligence Rachelle Petusky credited Tesla for positioning itself as a key leader in the electric vehicle market. “They’ve done a wonderful job at presenting themselves as the innovative leader of electric vehicles and therefore, this is translating high awareness among consumers,” she said.
Petusky even went so far as to state that without Tesla in the picture, the market share for electric cars in the United States is “stagnant.” This was despite the alleged impending arrival of dozens upon dozens of electric and electrified vehicles from traditional carmakers.
While Tesla remains a dominating force in the pure electric car segment, Cox’s study also showed that a notable portion of car buyers still have reservations about EVs as a whole. Among the respondents who identified themselves as EV non-considerers, 83 percent listed battery limitations and charging anxiety while 70 percent listed high costs as their barriers to purchasing an electric car. This, according to Petusky, is unfortunate, as EV pricing has actually increased far less than the price of internal combustion cars over the past years.
“EV pricing has only minimally increased in the last seven years while pricing for new internal combustion engine vehicles has spiked almost 19 percent. This affordability gap, as it closes, is one of the key areas of educational opportunities for both dealers and OEMS to help consumers to understand what is really a valid option for them,” she said.
Misconceptions about battery longevity are also abounding. Even among respondents who are considering an electric car purchase, 50 percent viewed the average battery life of EVs at 100,000 miles or more, while 46 percent stated that they believe the average battery life of an EV was only 65,000 miles or less. In comparison, Consumer Reports notes that the expected lifespan of an internal combustion engine is about 200,000 miles.
Quite interestingly, dealers who participated in the survey admitted that they are experiencing operational challenges in pushing EV sales. Apart from vehicle costs and battery longevity, 55 percent of dealers reported a lack of inventory and available models as difficulties, while 54 percent stated that they see lower ROI for EVs compared to internal combustion cars. A third of the dealers in the study also pointed to the lack of OEM sales, marketing support, and poor sales training as a challenge for more electric car sales. Only 9 percent of dealers stated that carmakers are exerting pressure to hit EV sales targets as well.
Cox Automotive’s full press release on its recent EV study could be found here.