This week the Union of Concerned Scientists and Consumers Union released results from a joint survey that evaluated what drivers in California and nine Northeast states think about electric vehicles (EVs). The survey also examined driving behaviors and vehicle perceptions to assess how many people in the Northeast or California could use an EV today. The results from California were not terribly surprising given the number of EVs on the road today.
More than half of California drivers are likely to consider an EV in their next vehicle purchase or lease, and more than 65 percent are interested in EVs generally.
What was a little surprising was the magnitude of interest from drivers in the Northeast given the state of adoption in that region.
Surveyors found that 35 percent of drivers are likely to consider an EV for their next vehicle purchase or lease, and 55 percent have some interest in EV technology.
The results not only indicate a high level of interest in EVs, but also demonstrate that millions of drivers on either coast could use an EV today. Further, the results found that more than 4 out of 10 households in both California and the Northeast could use an EV today, with little or no change to their driving habits and vehicle needs.
Despite the strong interest in EVs in the Northeast, the survey identified a general lack of knowledge on existing EV policy. More than three quarters of California drivers didn’t know the state offers any plug-in electric vehicle incentives, and almost 80 percent weren’t aware of the federal EV tax credit.
As an industry, we need to help get the word out about EVs!!!
A separate piece of UCS analysis found that another barrier is that there can be fewer EVs for sale in the Northeast compared to California. For example, a three month search of Edmunds.com for EVs within 50 miles of Oakland or Los Angeles yielded over 5,800 and 8,200 EVs, respectively. Conducting the same Edmunds search for EVs in Northeast, on the other hand, only resulted in 733 EVs in the Boston region and only 1,744 within 50 miles of New York City.
With fewer electric vehicles in the Northeast, car buyers will have a harder time finding plug-in vehicles to test drive and therefore not get a sense for why electric vehicles have some of the highest ownership satisfaction scores in Consumer Reports’ ratings (Tesla Model S at 97 percent, Chevy Volt at 82 percent, Nissan Leaf at 76 percent).
EV Connect has been working with New York Power Authority, New York State Energy Research Development Agency, and many other Northeast state agencies and utilities to educate potential drivers and charging station hosts. Stay tuned for exciting news from EV Connect and New York State on this topic.