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The price of an electric car and range anxiety help drive car shoppers away

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  • Even as sales of electric cars continue to rise in the United States, many car shoppers aren’t always impressed by high-tech features or zero emissions. A new survey by Autolist of 1,350 car shoppers in April and May finds plenty of reason to be skeptical about electric cars.
  • The most common reason cited by car shoppers who didn’t buy an electric car was price, followed by concern about range and concern about where to charge.
  • There’s also good news for automakers that have electric vehicles for sale. Nearly a quarter of respondents said they don’t know enough about electric vehicles to really take them into account, which means more advertising and educational campaigns could sway it.

    A major shift is underway in the auto industry away from fossil fuels to zero-emissions electric vehicles. Although electric vehicle ownership is still minimal in the United States, automakers are very busy trying to figure out how to get more people to buy an electric car. Helping with this task are consumer surveys that attempt to understand why people buy an electric car, and why they are waiting to make the switch.

    Autolist published the latest like this Report This week, it reveals pitfalls and promise for electric vehicle suppliers. The good news? The concern about range, which used to be a concern of mainstream thought about electric vehicles, is no longer the concern of shoppers. Bad news? Concern about range now comes in second place, cited by 44 percent of the 1,350 car shoppers surveyed in April and May, after price hikes for electric vehicles (48 percent) and questions about infrastructure (36 percent; asked by Each participant listed his three most important concerns.

    “These are the same first three concerns we saw in 2019 and again in 2021,” Autolist CEO Cory Lidstone said in a statement. “While sales of electric vehicles are slowly improving as more compelling models reach the market, consumer impressions of electric vehicles are not improving.”

    Too expensive, even if gas prices continue to rise

    While tax credits are available to some electric vehicle buyers, the high purchase prices offered are the main obstacle to electric vehicle adoption in Autolist’s results. While electric vehicles offer lower operating and maintenance costs than petrol cars, 28 percent of respondents said they were not entirely willing to pay more for an electric car than a similar petrol car. And don’t expect historically high fuel prices in America to drive reluctant car buyers to buy electric cars, at least not yet. When asked how high gas prices should make them consider buying an electric car, 21 percent of those surveyed said no gas price is too high. 12 percent said 6 gallons of gas would do, while the other $5 to $10 were all stimulating levels for about 7 to 9 percent of respondents.

    It’s helpful to put Autolist’s results in context with other electric vehicle surveys. Earlier this month, KBB released a file Brand Monitoring Report for the first quarter of 2022 and found that “rising gas prices in March led one in four shoppers to consider electrified cars”. It is also important to note that hybrids and plug-in hybrids are considered “electrified” vehicles in KBB use. Carmax It also released Consumer Information this month and found that internet search and test drives for electric vehicles saw their biggest rise in more than a year in March 2022, “around the same time gas prices in the U.S. rose,” the company said.

    More options and more availability are needed

    There was some good news to be found in the Autolist data for companies that sell electric vehicles. Some of the reasons shoppers cited as a reason not to buy an EV are quickly resolved, including “lack of proper size or body style” (11 percent). Trucks and SUVs are very popular in the United States, and these segments are now just beginning to have real and all-electric options. Another solvable problem—particularly once global supply chain issues are resolved—is that 6 percent said electric vehicles are hard to find. But the biggest problem that shouldn’t be a big deal is that 23 percent of shoppers said they didn’t want to buy an electric car because they didn’t know enough about it. This looks more like an opportunity than an issue, something CarMax pointed out from another survey it did recently. In this survey, 65 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to consider buying an electric vehicle if they knew they could return it within 30 days if they didn’t like it. Nothing like the rear of the seats, as they say.

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