Below is one chapter of our latest electric car driver report, Electric Car Drivers: Demands, Desires & Dreams.
With electric car purchases still driven in large part by environmental concern and leadership, it will not surprise many of you to learn that many electric car drivers also have solar panels on their homes.
That means that, yes, much electric driving is powered by sunshine. Another thing the data tell us, though, is that much more electric driving could be powered by sunshine. Solar panel ownership ranged from 13% to 32% across the 8 groups surveyed. This is lower than in previous years, implying that electric cars are becoming mainstream faster than rooftop solar panels.
Part of the challenge for rooftop solar adoption is that many people do not own their homes, or own homes that don’t have roofs (i.e., condos or apartments), or own homes that have roofs unsuitable for solar panels (big trees overhead, for example). Many of those people do drive cars, though.
While still a far higher percentage than the population as a whole, the respondents who didn’t yet have electric cars were the ones with the lowest rate of solar ownership. Just 13% of North Americans in that group had rooftop solar panels, notably less than the other groups, which ranged from 21% to 32%. That is likely related in part to the earliest adopters having high net worth and being able to comfortably buy homes with roofs adequate for solar panels, solar panels themselves, and electric cars, which still have higher upfront prices than non-electric cars.
Another energy topic we explore year after year is whether or not EV drivers have been conserving energy more due to their experience with an electric car, which often makes people think about energy usage much more than before.
This year, 24–35% of respondents indicated that driving an electric car made them conserve energy in their homes more than they did before they had an EV. A large chunk of respondents thought that they may have been influenced in this way, but they weren’t sure.
Overall, when you consider how much electric car ownership seems to lead to greater energy conservation at home and when driving, the environmental and health benefits of electric vehicle adoption rise even higher than typically presumed. There’s an amplifying effect instead of a rebound effect (aka Jevons paradox). As far as we’ve seen, this has never been quantified, and even these brief survey results are the extent of the data we’ve seen collected on this topic.
Compare these results to last year’s report findings: