While some recent headlines have suggested a significant slowdown in electric vehicle (EV) sales in the United States, 2023 is turning out to be another milestone year for EVs. Through the end of September, sales are up 50 percent – already surpassing last year’s total – and it’s possible that one million annual sales will occur for the first time.
As more and more Americans drive EVs, understanding consumer concerns and preferences will become increasingly important for a wide range of stakeholders – electricity providers among them. To better understand the needs of today’s EV drivers and consumers who haven’t purchased an EV, the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC) recently conducted a nationwide survey of 1,500 Americans – plus an additional sample of 621 current EV drivers.
The new survey found that EV drivers are overwhelmingly satisfied with their vehicles, with 98 percent of them saying they are likely to purchase an EV for their next vehicle. And there’s considerable interest in purchasing an EV from today’s non-adopters, especially those that fall into SECC’s more tech-savvy and eco-friendly consumer segments – the Green Pioneers and the Connected Pragmatists. More than three-quarters of each segment are interested in an EV for their next vehicle.
However, when it comes to public EV charging infrastructure, consumers do have some concerns that need to be addressed by stakeholders. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they are concerned with the time it takes to charge, while 44 percent are concerned with the cost of charging and 43 percent have concerns about the number of charging stations available in their area. Out-of-order charging stations are also somewhat of a concern (21 percent), but most other concerns are only cited by a small number of non-adopters.
For current EV drivers, concerns are fewer across the board; for example, only 34 percent are concerned with the time to charge, and 32 percent are concerned with the cost of charging. However, in some areas related to the EV charging experience – such as out-of-order charging stations, difficulty using payment apps and connectivity with their specific EV model – current drivers tend to me slightly more concerned than the general population.
Survey respondents were also asked about potential solutions for reducing range anxiety, a major hurdle to EV adoption, and both EV owners and non-adopters noted that having EV chargers at every gas station would be most impactful. EV drivers and the general population were also in agreement that knowing an EV can travel as far as a standard gas-powered car would be the next most impactful. On the other hand, current EV owners were much more concerned with their EVs being able to work with any charger.
Finally, when it comes to who consumers would like to see own and operate public EV chargers, there were also some notable differences between EV owners and non-adopters. The general population prefers gas stations, electricity providers and charging station companies to own public EV charging stations. While current EV drivers are in agreement on electricity providers and charging station companies (their top two preferred locations), they are less enthusiastic about gas station ownership and prefer chargers owned by local governments, large businesses and automakers (the latter likely driven by high levels of Tesla ownership and the extensive Supercharger network).
As the EV market continues to mature and more and more Americans adopt EVs for the first time, addressing consumers’ concerns and needs in this area will become increasingly important for all stakeholders, but particularly electricity providers as they seek to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction. By listening to the voice of consumers, providers can help play a key role in smoothing the road to electric transportation.
To learn more about what Americans think about electrifying their homes and driving EVs, download our latest consumer research report here.