Humanity’s Survival Doesn’t Matter Much To Car Buyers (UK Survey)

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When you look at the dramatic global heating crisis we are facing, and the possibility of that destroying human society, you are often compelled to change your life in a way that could help to avert that fate. However, many people just say, “meh.”

Our survey of over 2,000 EV drivers across 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces matched results from other surveys — a large portion of current EV drivers went electric for environmental reasons (above everything else). In fact, ~40% of respondents indicated that was the prime factor that inspired them to go electric.

However, when it comes to learning about climate science, people say, “ugh, science.” When people learn about the cancerous premature deaths that come from air pollution, they say, “hopefully it won’t be me — I’ll just cross my fingers.” When it comes time to buying a new car, they say, “I want something cheap and stylish.” At least, the latter is the story in the UK.

A survey from BuyaCar.co.uk found that “green credentials” was the absolute last priority for UK car buyers from a list of 12 different matters.

“The results of our research show that people are really only in touch with the immediately tangible aspects of the cars they buy and drive,” says Austin Collins, Managing Director of BuyaCar.co.uk.

“That’s why the thought of spending money at the fuel pump every week or so seems more important than a trade-in or sale value in a few years’ time.

“We believe this is also why a car’s environmental credentials are at the bottom of the list for most people when they’re choosing their next vehicle.

“It’s not that people really don’t care about the environment– it’s just that the impact of your car on the environment is less immediately tangible compared with other factors.

Good comments. I think that is what it comes down to — people are focused on what the need, want, and can do tomorrow, this week, right now. The focus is on immediate gratification and this month’s paycheck.

This is also why Tesla’s approach to electric transport has been so critical. The idea was never to target climate hawks. In fact, Tesla seems to go out of its way to not go that route. CEO Elon Musk raises awareness about the global heating challenge from time to time, and pushes for carbon pricing, but the marketing focus is consistently on branding electric cars (well, Tesla electric cars) as the most exciting, most high-tech, most innovative, most convenient, and even cheapest options.

Tesla/Elon has been anti-selling the Tesla Model 3 lately — no doubt to try to prevent cannibalization of Tesla Model S sales — but in Master Plan, Part Deux, Elon wrote, “You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app and have it generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation, significantly offsetting and at times potentially exceeding the monthly loan or lease cost.” In other words, even though the Model 3 base price is slightly higher than the average selling price of a new car, the important point is that a Tesla robotaxi service might be able to make you money in the end.

In other words, Tesla is now targeting the “price” selling point, nailed the “fuel economy” selling point, is obviously focused on crushing the “style” selling point, and actually runs down practically that full list — interior comfort, performance/speed, depreciation, latest technology, crash safety, etc. Tesla wants to sell electric cars — unlike some other automakers — and a focus on selling them on the points people care about is largely why there were nearly 400,000 Model 3 reservations within a few weeks of its unveiling last year — and why a huge portion of current EV drivers plan to buy a Model 3 next.

That said, Nissan, GM, BMW, and others are moving into that “sell the car on all metrics” space, and it’s nice to see that there’s a sizable market for electric vehicles from these other automakers as well.


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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