Autonomous Vehicles

Published on March 13th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan


~55% Of EV Enthusiasts Likely To Buy/Lease Tesla Model 3

March 13th, 2016 by  

There are certainly EV enthusiasts out there who aren’t Tesla fans (as hard as that is for me to understand) and who don’t intend to buy a Tesla. However, a survey of potential EV buyers showed that the majority plan to buy a Tesla. in fact, the majority plan to buy a Tesla Model 3!

most likely to buy electric cars

Chris Boylan, our newest author, just highlighted 6 reasons the Model 3 is so attractive and will likely be a huge (or perhaps “yuge“) success. I think that basically covered things, but I’ve been planning to write this piece, so am piggy-backing on his great post to highlight that statistic above + a few others as we excitedly await the Model 3 unveiling that is just 2½ weeks away.

The findings highlighted above are from our Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want report, and were shared in a broader January article.

Naturally, the Model 3 stands out because it will be affordable, will have 200+ miles of range, is assumed to have impressive performance, and has the “cool factor” of a Tesla. It’s hard to tease out how much each factor plays into the still-mysterious car’s high demand, but that’s sort of the point. A truly mass-market electric car can’t only have a low price tag, can’t only have strong performance, can’t only have long range, and can’t only have access to a superfast charging network (of which, there’s only the Tesla Supercharger network) — it needs to have all of those things. As it stands, the Tesla Model 3 is the only announced car to have that “full package.”

Coming back to the EV enthusiast surveys we conducted, in addition to the above, just over 50% of our respondents indicated a strong preference for cars that offered over-the-air software updates (which only Teslas offer at the moment), and large percentages greatly valued various autonomous driving options. There was also heavy preference for the option to upgrade one’s battery pack after a few or several years.

Here are charts on how important some of those factors are/were to the EV drivers and potential buyers who we surveyed, as well as an extra one on preferred car classes:

Tesla Supercharger demand


range non drivers

Answers of potential EV buyers.

range EV drivers

Answers of current EV drivers.

car classes 2

Answers of potential EV drivers.

car classes 1

Answers of current EV drivers.


And putting it all together:

most excited ev drivers copy

Answers of potential EV buyers. And in case you’re curious, #3 here is “Long-Range Fully Electric Nissan” and #6 is “Long-Range Fully Electric Volkswagen.”

most excited non owners

Answers of current EV drivers. And again, #3 here is “Long-Range Fully Electric Nissan” and #6 is “Long-Range Fully Electric Volkswagen.”

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • 181

    Chart creation 101: Don’t shorten labels to the point that two different columns are indistinguishable.

    How can we compare these?
    A) “Long-range fully-electr…”
    B) “Long-range fully-electr…”

  • 181

    Chart creation 101: Don’t shorten labels to the point that two different columns are indistinguishable.

    How can we compare these?
    A) “Long-range fully-electr…”
    B) “Long-range fully-electr…”

  • super390

    Since GM seems to planning for Bolt production to be less than 100,000 a year, this might work out for the best for everybody. It’s not like they’re set up for long waiting lists.

    • theflew

      If GM sells 100k Bolts Tesla is in trouble. One that would be 4x the number of Model S’ that have sold yearly in the US. Two that would mean it’s a pretty big success and I’m sure they have other vehicles in the pipeline. People assume for whatever reason Tesla has an ability to increase capacity but GM doesn’t. The Gigafactory took less than 2 years to build in a desert.

      • Bob_Wallace

        You’re making a strange assumption that the demand for $30k to $35k EV is limited to a couple hundred units. Have you any facts that back up your assumption or are you just blowing smoke?

        Do you not understand that the average new car price in the US is above $30k? Do you not appreciate how much larger the market is for $30k cars compared to $80k cars?

        GM, as well as Ford, Toyota, Honda, BMW, Hyundai, and other car manufacturers could build large battery factories and start ramping up to manufacture 500,000 EVs four years from now. But none are.

        If Tesla doesn’t make a major misstep they are going to take a lot of the car market away from established companies. It’s going to be interesting to see when other manufacturers start taking Tesla seriously. There’s a good chance that one or more current manufacturers won’t be in business in ten years.

        • theflew

          The average sale price of a new car is close to $33k, but the median price of a new car is around $24k. There are a lot of < $25k cars sold. So there might be a large demand for a $35k EV, but no one really knows at this point. I wouldn't stake my business on it at this point.
          It wouldn't take a large auto manufacturer 4 years to ramp up a battery plant. For one GM would probably just invest in a plant with LG like their Holland, MI plant. Tesla has spent $350M on the Giga factory so far. To put that into prospective GM invested $500M in Lyft. $350 might be a lot to Tesla but GM spent $160M just getting the Orion plant ready for the Bolt. I think you're over selling Tesla's advantage while down playing the others.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Get back to us when another car manufacturer gets serious about building EVs. GM’s 30,000 per year isn’t a very impressive start.

            Each year the other car companies hold back Tesla gets another year ahead.

          • Eric Lukac-Kuruc

            Too me, it’s a good thing for the short term that Tesla is not fighting too hard with the incumbents. This gives Tesla the time to deploy its full plan up to the point of becoming unstoppable. At that point, the competition will have to awake for real or disappear.

  • SkyHunter

    The Tesla brand is impressive. The extra time and effort spent on getting the Model S and Model X right just reinforces it.
    The Model 3 will not compete with the Bolt. It will be in a class by itself. While Bolt will alleviate GM from having to pay someone else for zero emission credits, it will not be a more desirable car than a comparable $30,000 ICE vehicle.

    • The Bolt IS the most desirable car!

      • SkyHunter

        Perhaps to you. But not statistically.

  • Mike333

    I’m surprised the BMW i3 isn’t higher on the list.
    Fully independent suspension, vented disk brakes, small range extender model, Most Efficient EV/Plugin on the market.

    • I’m honestly surprised and disappointed at how much anti-i3 sentiment there is among EV enthusiasts. Of course, it’s a bit highly priced for the range. But it’s still an awesome car to drive, super innovative, and offers pretty good range with the REx for occasional long-distance trips.

      • Mike333

        I’ll seriously consider the i3 after the July update.

  • Marcel Guldemond

    I count myself as an EV enthusiast, and I’m certainly intending to get some form of plug in next, with preference for BEVs. I’ll never be able to afford a Model X, and I feel like going without a car would still lead to rentals and cabs so I’d still be using too much ICE transport. And I’d like to help the EV revolution along.

    I’m in Ontario, so we have generous incentives, but a disadvantageous exchange rate, and no non tesla fast chargers. My current ranking, assuming prices come in close to expected:

    1. Mitsubishi Outlander phev – requires no extra rentals, avail hopefully 2016
    2. Chevy bolt – avail hopefully 2016/2017 , but has to be supplemented by rentals for longer trips due to no fast chargers, can’t go camping. Maybe Ontario will install some chargers?
    3. Model 3 – maybe can go camping with a roof carrier? Has charger network, but won’t be avail until 2018
    4. 2016 leaf – maybe I can haggle a deal because they’re slow selling, and just factor in rentals for trips.
    5. Pacifica phev – like the outlander above but: it’s a minivan, and it’s a Chrysler

    Model 3 drops from no 1 only because I’m impatient and it won’t be available for 2 years.

    • Curious to hear what you choose! Be sure to drop us a note.

    • Bob_Wallace

      6. Why not a used Leaf? Prices are very good. Buy a three year old Leaf that is coming off lease and drive it for 3-4 years. By then there should be some very good options.

      Use rentals when the Leaf won’t work. You could opt for a very efficient ICEV when taking a long trip and something with a lot of interior space when going camping.

    • Paul

      Awhile back there was a small discussion about Chevy’s Volt/Bolt naming, some believing it led to confusion. I happen to like it, and offer the following model suggestions for consideration
      Colt – a PHEV version of the Chevy Colorado with lots of electric range (200m +) plus a range extender with good inverter to power jobsite electrical tools, towing capacity ot at least 5,000 lbs
      Jolt – a two seater electric sports car, perhaps a mini-Corvette with good performance and range >250 miles for weekend getaways
      Dolt – the car for the 1%ers that have been fighting the whole notion of climate change, of course it will need to be amphibious

    • Frank

      Is there any chance the campsite has a plug? Doesn’t need to be all that fast if you are camping.

    • Pete-In-Oz

      G’day Marcel, I own the Outlander PHEV myself here in Oz and it is a great SUV vehicle for sure. It is great for towing and has more torque than its diesel equivalent, but this very much depends on you maintaining at least 30% of the charge on the battery pack (i.e. accomplished by activating the save button).
      However, whilst we are very happy with the vehicle, it feel it could have had a slightly better electric range (it only travels about 50-60Km on EV), which is due to the relatively small battery pack installed (i.e. only 12KW). I personally believe Mitsubishi should have installed the 18KW pack of the iMev, which was released several years ago. In any case, I hope with new the battery chemistries and densities they will upgrade the pack for north American buyers this year. Whilst I am very happy with the vehicle overall, once my warranty does come close to expiring, I might consider then installing a battery pack extension of some sort into the rear of vehicle in addition to the current pack … though with this said … I have always been keen to a pure EV driver so you never know in this fast pace environment. If I do decide to just install an extension pack, then there is plenty of room to do so in the back and underneath the cargo space floor. It almost seems as though they had designed the vehicle with this in mind actually. Hope this helps …

  • omar

    Supercharger network is the most promoter for Model3. When others EV makers and governments will learn!!

    • That was going to be the focus of a 2nd article, but didn’t get to it. Maybe next week. 😀

  • Thanks, Zach! Another excellent article and presentation.

  • Joe Viocoe

    I don’t think the Headline matches the conclusion of the survey.

    “Intend to buy” is significantly more commitment than the survey question.

    • DecksUpMySleeve

      Hey, the masses chase what they think the other masses are doing(herd behavior), a little posturing in the EV market is a good thing.

      • I am now beginning to suspect bias on account of Zachary because of his own Tesla purchase. Not blaming him at all, just saying I now have to keep his own personal involvement in Tesla as a possible factor in my mind.

        • I haven’t purchased a Tesla (yet). Am car-free, for nearly 12 years now.

          • I must have been mistaken!

          • Kraylin

            You may have been thinking of Kyle, also a writer here.

          • Actually your exactly right!

          • CB

            “I haven’t purchased a Tesla (yet). Am car-free, for nearly 12 years now.”

            If you do decide to buy, I have more feedback for you with the fast chargers.

            We spent the better part of Saturday looking for an SAE combo DC fast charge unit that was working. 3 out of 4 were out of commission: screens frozen, weird fault errors… total nightmare. It was raining pretty heavily here, but that’s no excuse.

            I’m incredibly disappointed in the design of these machines. They really need work.

            I’d love to see a comparison of how Tesla’s superchargers stack up.

          • Oh my! I have seen a piece on reliability of different networks in Tennessee:



            Not sure regarding type of charger, and generally, but yes, my understanding is that Tesla’s chargers have much better uptime/reliability.

            Is a real shame how poorly other manufacturers are executing…

          • CB

            “Is a real shame how poorly other manufacturers are executing…”

            I can’t help wondering if it might have something to do with the fact that the other charge standards are used by car manufacturers who make most of their profit off of dinoburners…

            The fast charge equipment itself seems to be the primary problem. All 4 machines we located were manufactured by the same company. Our experience with the companies responsible for maintenance mirrors the results of the survey you link to. The worst performer was Greenlots, once again, and the one we found that worked was maintained by EVgo.

            Thank you for the reference!

          • Brian

            Yeaaaah…you future Tesla owners…
            you’re all the same!

        • Philip W

          So how would a bias of the author influence a poll? Or was this only meant for the headline?

    • I think the “Intend to buy” numbers are up to 50,000 for an Elio! And thats not saying much. It will never see market.

    • Hmm, I saw them as synonyms, but will adjust headline to be more exact.

      • Chris Simmons

        Sorry to be a pedant but the title still seems contrary to the actual statistics. What you have is 55% of EV enthusiasts are most likely to buy a Model 3 relative to other EVs. If, say, only 5% of them are likely to buy *any* EV then clearly you won’t find that 55% of them are likely to buy a Model 3, you’d expect only 2.75% of them are likely to buy a Model 3 (assuming these facts are independent which is a dubious assumption in and of itself).

    • ROBwithaB

      And every single article like this one should also disclose that Zach also owns.
      A visible bias, however small, detracts from an otherwise interesting article.

      • DecksUpMySleeve

        He doesn’t own though, or drive?

        • ROBwithaB

          I’m not completely sure, at this point, despite being a regular reader.
          Which is why such interest should be disclosed, IMHO. It’s just the right thing to do. And it provides deeper context for any article. It can actually ADD value, knowing that someone has some personal investment in the matter at hand.

  • nordlyst

    I’m as excited as anyone about the Model 3, but in several ways I think the Bolt may be at least as important. It will convert a lot of people who want a less flashy car and prefer lots of headroom to maximum sportiness. The Tesla will appeal to find out people Tesla already appeals to – and of course put Tesla within reach for many more of them.

    I’ve registered as interested with Opel to be notified when it is decided when and how we can get in line for the European version of the Bolt, Opel Ampera-e, and I’ll likely reserve my Model 3 as well! While the Opel might potentially be in my garage 12 months from now I suspect it will be MINIMUM 24 months until a Model 3 possibly can – unless Tesla plans (and manages to execute) a much faster roll out globally than for Model X. I reckon they’ll deliver precious few 3s in 2017, and slowly start delivering them in my country, Norway, by summer 2018 at the earliest. But obviously I’d be glad to be proven wrong!

    • Joe Viocoe

      The Ampera wasn’t available as soon as the Volt was.
      And the ramp up that GM is capable of, will be much slower this time. The Volt had 16 kwh of battery… the Bolt will need 4 times as much. GM will be constrained by the output of the LG Chem factory.

      If you were in a CARB state, you will certainly get your Bolt before a Model 3…. but Tesla could possibly ramp to the European market sooner. Or at least very close.

      • SkyHunter

        LG chem has/had a lot of spare capacity. They started bringing it online last year.

        • Bob_Wallace

          But they are the battery suppliers for about 20 different car manufacturers. If other companies get serious about EVs before 2020 the LG is likely to be stretched thin.

          • theflew

            How many of those 20 manufactures have cars on the road or specific release dates like the Bolt and Volt? And as far as 2020 Tesla had the Gigafactory 1 built in 2 years. LG could build another factory starting in 2018 and be ready by 2020. There is no reason to commit to anything right now. Even Tesla is scaling back on the Gigafactory right now because you don’t want to overbuild at this point.

          • Bob_Wallace

            How many manufactures other than Tesla and the Chinese companies are making EVs and PHEVs? You can answer your own question.

            Tesla is scaling back on the Gigafactory? Show us that proof.

    • The Bolt does well in the surveys (as you can see), but certainly not even close to the Model 3, despite being much further along at the time of the surveys.

      I do think it makes plenty of sense in the UK, where people drive half as much as in the US, on average, and max-distances drives typically aren’t nearly as long, I’d assume.

      • theflew

        I think the Model 3 does well in the survey because people think they are going to get a small Model S for $35k. But I think they are going to be surprised at the end of the month.

        • Len

          I’m curious about what you think the surprise will be. Do you think Tesla going to follow the typical car company econobox recipe (build them ugly and cheap)

    • SkyHunter

      The Model 3 will not suffer the same delays as the Model S and X. Tesla has gone through the learning curve, the Model 3 is a simpler design.
      They also upgraded the aluminum stamping press to handle 500,000 bodies per year, so it appears the Model 3 will be aluminum. Unless the new press works with steel as well.
      Anyone know about about this kind equipment?

      • josef novak

        M3 will be made from steel. Probably.

  • Ross

    My biggest concern about the Model 3 is it won’t be available to buy where I live.

    • nordlyst

      ?!? Not ever? Where do you live?

      • Ross

        Not not ever ever. ;-). Delayed a year relative to America. I’m in Ireland and Teslas aren’t sold here yet. Elon Musk recently answered a twitter question saying Teslas would go on sale in Ireland later this year but no further details.

    • Yeah, understand that… We don’t have a Tesla store in Poland yet either. 😛

  • Matt

    Yes a massive demand of want to be buyers. Now we just need to wait a bit to see real deliveries.

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