What Electric Vehicle Consumers Want: Fall 2016 Edition

2016 Tesla Model X and S
A Fall 2016 survey revealed the latest on what electric vehicle consumers want | Tesla

After listening to automakers promise electric vehicles for the future and show off concepts at auto shows, you have to start keeping score. How many of these cars will actually make it to dealerships (and when)? The next questions revolve around range and cost. If they don’t kill range anxiety or remain expensive, most consumers will continue ignoring them. Also: Who cares about autonomous vehicles?

At times like these, consumer surveys add a dose of sanity to the proceedings. To find out if people interested in EVs hear the latest pitches and have plans to buy one, just ask. CALinnovates, an economic advocacy group based in the Golden State, posed questions on this very topic to California residents as part of a study released in October 2016.

The results revealed very practical concerns from electric car consumers. While Tesla concentrates on self-driving vehicle tech, most people just want a car to replace a gas vehicle, and they support laws to make it happen now. Here are the three big survey takeaways.

80% want California to push EVs

California Governor Jerry Brown speaks about the state's electric vehicle policies
About four in five Californians want more support for EV development from the state | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Every once in a while, you hear someone claiming electric vehicle incentives “pick winners” and amount to market intervention. It’s true to some extent, but many people think that’s a good thing. In fact, Californians want the state government to do more about swapping gas guzzlers for EVs. Four in five who responded to the survey said Sacramento lawmakers should do more to develop and deploy plug-ins.

Almost the same percentage told CALinnovates it wanted state officials to “push the envelope” in combating air pollution and climate change. Some 70% supported Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of 1.5 million EVs in California by 2025. Meanwhile, 60% said the state should increase available incentives.

65% are ready for affordable 200-mile EV

Chevrolet Bolt EV
About two-thirds of California residents are ready for cars like the Chevy Bolt EV | General Motors

Everyone saw the response when Tesla debuted the Model 3. Hundreds of thousands of consumers put down $1,000 to hold a place in the line while the automaker developed its affordable ($35,000) long-range (215 miles) EV. Chevrolet Bolt EV offers more range (238 miles) at a slightly higher price ($37,495). These products are music to Californians’ ears: 65% said they would consider buying a 200-mile EV at a reasonable price.

State incentives combined with the federal tax credit take as much as $10,000 off the sticker price of such cars. Californians, already the leaders in plug-in registrations, are ready to do more. Some 43% told CALinnovates they plan on purchasing or leasing an EV by 2025.

13% believe automakers commit to EVs

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 06: Gaelle Freer looks at a Tesla motor company car in a dealership at the Dadeland Mall on June 6, 2013 in Miami, Florida. The electric car maker is trying to make a move by selling their cars, that can cost between $62,400 and $82,400, into malls and stores.
A customer looks at a Tesla at Florida’s Dadeland Mall | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Everyone knows Tesla is committed to sustainability and the role of electric vehicles in modern transportation. But Californians are very skeptical of traditional automakers. Just 13% said car companies have committed to reducing pollution by selling more plug-in vehicles. One quarter even said automakers prefer to sell a “big truck” over an EV.

To get more electric cars on the road, Californians said the oil and gas industry would need to get out of the way. CALinnovates reports over 50% said fossil fuel industries hinder positive change.

The roadmap to success with electric vehicles appears clear in California. We’ll see if automakers take it.

Source: CALinnovates

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