Back in 2020 (which can seem like a lifetime ago), only 4% Americans surveyed by Consumer Reports said they would definitely buy an electric car. But what a difference a couple of years, and a tremendous rise in gas prices, can make: In a new survey of 8,000 Americans released last week, the number who said they would definitely buy an EV jumped to 14%, and more than a third of those surveyed would consider going all electric.
When people mentioned why they were reluctant to consider electric cars back in 2020, the factors included price, vehicle range, charging options and availability. Since then, awareness of state and federal incentives has grown, along with the variety of electric models available…and of course the high price of gasoline makes electric vehicles more attractive than they were even six months ago.
“The survey shows that there is clear interest among Americans in reducing costs for transportation and lowering their environmental impact,” says Quinta Warren, PhD, CR’s associate director of sustainability policy. “It underscores some key concerns, but fortunately, many of these barriers to owning a battery-electric vehicle EV can be addressed through experience and education.”
The groups most likely to buy or lease an EV include those who live in urban areas and those with higher household incomes, showing that the transition to EVs hasn’t been equitable. Environmental justice advocates say that’s a problem because low-income communities and communities of color bear the highest burden from vehicle exhaust pollution and stand to benefit from saving money by switching to EVs.
Another factor that may help increase electric car sales are battery improvements that will shorten charging time and extend vehicle range. This article in the NY Times explains the breakthroughs in battery technology that may go into large scale production within the next few years.
Of course, ultimately electric cars are only as sustainable as the electric sources that power them. But increasingly, electric grids are being powered by solar and wind, making the case for electric cars environmentally stronger all the time.