The Electric Vehicle That Future Buyers Want Most

Source: Tesla

As new electric vehicle models make their way to market in the coming years, green car consumers are going to have a tougher decision facing them at dealerships (in the case of Tesla, “stores”). So where are the early adopters and future buyers leaning? According to a late 2015 survey of over 1,200 EV drivers conducted by Important Media, the overwhelming favorite is the Tesla Model 3.

Just over 55% of respondents said they are most likely to buy or lease the future Tesla that will crack 200 miles and feature an MSRP of $35,000. Nearly one third (32.75%) said they were planning on buying the next-generation Nissan Leaf, which is expected to hit the same benchmarks in price and electric range. Finally, 20% said the Model S is in their plans when they (presumably) trade up from their current EV. Just 17% said they are leaning toward the Chevy Bolt EV.

If you notice there are over 100 percentage points in play here, it’s because the survey allowed more than one answer to the question about plans for future electric car purchases. (Another 18% said the second-gen Chevy Volt is on the agenda.) When asked about EVs they are most excited about in the coming years, 56% named the Model 3. The next-highest percentage went to the Model X with 15%. A mere 4% went to the Bolt.

Important Media, which includes websites Gas 2.0 and Clean Technica, asked respondents which plug-in cars they currently drive, and the answers are useful for imagining motivation for future purchases. The highest percentage (33%) were Leaf owners/lessees, followed by Model S (21%) and Volt (16%).

2015 Tesla Model S
Source: Tesla

Every automaker on the list besides Tesla seems to be suffering from lackluster enthusiasm, and it appears to be at its starkest for GM in the case of the Bolt. Unlike many of the models in question, the General’s first mass-market EV has already appeared in production form and has a set production date on the calendar for 2016, yet few people consider it their future model of choice.

It is important to note that 58% of the survey respondents have an average annual household income over $100,000 while 25% reported earnings between $60,000 and $99,000 per year. Tesla appears to have the attention of consumers in every income bracket, and Model 3 is appealing to consumers who could likely afford one of the automaker’s luxury models.

As we have seen from election polls and surveys taken in other industries, what people say and what they do are often different, yet there is a clear winner in this one. Tesla has managed to create sky-high levels of anticipation for its first mass-market offering. The test will be whether the company can deliver.

Connect with Eric on Twitter @EricSchaalNY