Charging and range concerns continue to hold back electric vehicle sales

Photo (c) Monty Rakusen - Getty Images

A new survey shows the industry has yet to overcome those two road blocks

The idea of owning an electric vehicle (EV) is highly appealing to many people, especially during this period of near record-high gasoline prices. But the logistics of owning and operating a car that runs on electricity are causing hesitation, according to a new survey.

Consumer Reports surveyed around 8,000 Americans and found that about half of the respondents were unaware that federal and state tax incentives would pay for part of the cost of the vehicle. But even that was not sufficient to overcome several perceived challenges.

Only 14% of consumers said they would “definitely” choose an EV if they were purchasing a new car today. Still, that’s considerably higher than the 4% who said the same thing in 2020 when gas prices were considerably lower.

The survey found that consumers’ biggest concerns involve charging the vehicles and the range that the cars can be driven between charges. 

While a gas tank can be filled in five to 10 minutes, fully charging an EV battery can take much longer depending on the charging infrastructure. Using a “Supercharger” system, such as the only one designed by Tesla, can take 30 minutes to an hour.

Cost of gas vs. electricity

If an EV is being charged at home using a household electrical outlet, charging can take several hours, if not days. And while most consumers are keenly aware of the price of gasoline and how much it costs to fill a tank, most people are less aware of the cost of electricity.

EV range was also cited as another reason for hesitation. People who drive only a few miles each day are much more likely to choose an EV because they may need to recharge only once a week or so. 

As we reported last year, many EV owners in California have gone back to an internal combustion engine. A study by researchers at the University of California Davis questioned California consumers who purchased an EV between 2012 and 2018. It found that nearly 20% no longer drove one, having traded it in for a gasoline-powered car.

“For the market share of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) to continue to grow and reach 100% of new vehicle sales, adopters of the technology, who initially buy PEVs, will need to continue choosing them in subsequent purchases,” the researchers wrote.

Quinta Warren, Consumer Reports’ associate director of sustainability policy, believes the industry is making progress in addressing these consumer concerns.

“Many of these barriers to owning a battery-electric vehicle EV can be addressed through experience and education,” she said.

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