Survey suggests lack of experience with EVs is slowing adoption



Car shoppers’ lack of experience with EVs is still holding back adoption, a new Consumer Reports survey suggests.

The nationally representative survey of 9,030 American consumers—80% of whom said they owned a non-hybrid gasoline vehicle—was conducted in late June and July 2023. Seven in 10 respondents expressed some level of interest in buying or leasing an EV, with 38% saying they would seriously consider an EV if they were getting a new vehicle today.

But EV interest increased with EV experience, the survey found. Consumer Reports developed an EV experience index on a scale of 0 to 4 based on answers to four survey questions. Of those with the highest score of 4, 71% said they would seriously consider an EV if they were getting a car today. Only 13% of respondents with zero EV experience said the same.

2024 Kia EV9

2024 Kia EV9

The survey found that most Americans don’t have much experience with EVs, though. Just 5% of respondents registered a 4 on Consumer Reports’ EV experience index, while 64% had a score of 1 or less.

The survey also found that many Americans aren’t aware of EV incentives. Only 47% of respondents were aware of tax credits for new EVs, and just 19% were aware of used-EV tax credits.

Low CO2 at no extra cost? Many Americans still say no.

One question clearly indicated how environmentalism just isn’t on the minds of many Americans. It asked about low-carbon fuels, and less than a third of Americans said they would be “very likely” to use low-carbon fuels even if they were the same price as gasoline. 56% said they would at least consider the possibility in an aviation scenario. 


Consumer interest in low-carbon fuel (from 2024 Consumer Reports survey)

Consumer interest in low-carbon fuel (from 2024 Consumer Reports survey)

Results showing lack of experience with EVs are familiar. A 2022 study from J.D. Power suggested that about a third of Americans were flat-out rejecting EVs simply because of lack of exposure to them. A 2020 survey suggested that 70% or more of Americans were EV virgins—those who had never been inside an EV. 

So, in an indication we’re still not much past the early adopters, it’s still a matter of getting “butts in seats.” Given the tribalism and partisan attitudes toward EVs that have developed just over the past few years, getting everyone to see the light on EVs—or the merits of actually treading lightly—may be increasingly difficult, though.


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