Americans Won’t Buy EVs Until They Are A Lot Cheaper

Are we as Americans so addicted to our gas guzzling vehicles that we are unwilling to consider the benefits of more environmentally friendly forms of transportation, such as electric cars, unless it can be proven to us in a dollars and sense kind of way? That’s one take away to be considered from a recent global survey of electric vehicle opinions by research firm GfK.

In its study, GfK found only 36 percent of Americans think highly of electric vehicles, which ranks us a little above China only amongst six national markets looked at. Those who outrank us in terms of “very or mainly favorable opinion” were Japan (82%), Russia (72%), Spain (65%) and France (61%).

2013 Nissan Leaf

Image courtesy of Nissan

Researchers found the main barriers to buying one to be perceived high purchase prices and related maintenance costs. Domestic customers simply aren’t willing to pay more for electric cars compared to conventional ones, and would also like to see a wider range of choices, especially if it were offered as an option in the type of vehicle they were planning to purchase.

In contrast to us, Japanese drivers find that electric vehicles meet their direct personal needs because they are perceived by them as easy to operate, safe and reliable. They also see them as good value for money, noted GfK, and are willing to pay a premium price. Surprisingly, less than half of Japan’s intenders see ‘low emission / environment friendly’ as something that springs to mind when thinking about electric vehicles. There are no prevalent barriers to purchase.

China, sitting at the bottom of the heap of world markets considering electric cars, is in part there because opinions and feelings towards this type of personal transportation are not yet formed. Most have a neutral impression at this point.

Perhaps the only saving grace for American perceptions of electric cars are that there is a higher willingness to consider buying one if the concerns previously outlined can be addressed. Until then, we will mostly continue to ramble around in our less efficient cars and trucks and burn through gallon after gallon of gas.

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.

    • BrotherKWS

      The presupposition is that if EVs make up only a small percentage of our vehicles, they have failed. I suppose that’s true if one assumes we should all be a mindless bunch of lemmings scampering around in a giant heard and generally headed in the direction of a huge cliff. The problem with surveys, is that you let the stupid people express input to something they have no capability to determine. It’s the standard belief by many that there is a nobility in ignorance. I suppose that’s somewhat true if you consider abdication of your critical thinking skillls. so that our “leaders” have an easier time cowing the general populous, noble.
      Tecnical evaluation of future costs presuming a small uptake of EV predicts that EVs will be much cheaper than ICE cars. The costs now are high because of the additional cost of development, the need to become more efficient in manufacturing, and the need to develop materials and parts vendor sources. For every product that has ever existed this is the pattern and it will be the pattern for EVs too. This is not a special case and there is no evidence that we should expect anything else.

      • The internal combustion engine is an inefficient beast that should have been replaced long ago. It did have the advantage of unbeatable energy concentration of fossil-based fuels, however. And quite possibly the on-going support of that industry, too. Simplicity and the lowered maintenance that goes with it are good reasons to go electric.

    • rutabega peanutbutter

      I would love to buy one. But with today’s employment options I am stuck with buying power in the $2K to $3K dollar range.

    • nwguy

      a new ev is what 50k? thats a lot of fillups in my 20year old car that gets 45mpg.. No i’ll NEVER buy a EV

      • A Nissan Leaf is way less that $50. A Tesla is more, but just wait for their next model, which sill be cheaper. Ford on the other hand wants to charge almost double for their all electric car. I say, good luck with that.

        Cheaper cars will be coming, soon, and at a fast pace. So, don’t speak too soon.

        P.S. I drive a 20 year old car, too. It gets around 30 mpg on the highway. I think you might be stretching the truth a bit with that 45 mpg figure. Maybe?

        • nwguy

          look up 1992 honda civic VX and tell me what people are getting for mpg.. Today i’m getting 40mpg. if i put real gas in i can get 50mpg if a hypermile (real gas = no ethanol)

          • Congratulations on buying the right model. I’m sure you’re shopping savvy will serve you just as well when the time comes to purchase an EV.

            • nwguy

              I’ll let you know in 20+ years.. I’ll update this and tell you

    • allannde

      BrotherKWS is right. Every thing is on a continuum. For example, the second best selling EV is a Tesla which costs three times as much as Leaf which is the best selling. Another is that the first Prius did not sell as well as the the EVs but is now well established, selling several millions of units. EVs are NOT a failure.

      It is sad that nwguy and rutabaga are not on the market for EVs. Maybe their fortunes will improve later on. Those of us who find that EVs work for us get a lot of pleasure and usefulness from them and our numbers will grow over time.

      EVs make sense.

      • nwguy

        How does it make ANY sense? Making and recycling the batteries are proven to be worst for the environment then the newer low emission cars. So your paying the 10’s of thousands of dollars just to be smug. Not until battery designs change drastically will EV make sense.

    • Octavion

      So, the author is annoyed because people in the US aren’t willing to sacrifice their standard of living to his definition of efficiency.