Confused About Buying An Electric Car? You’re Not Alone

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Two new electric car surveys came out last week. One by Climate Nexus claims 44% of people who plan to buy a new car in the next 5 years expect that car to be electric. Another survey conducted by AAA says only 16% of Americans expect their next car to be electric. Clearly, both polls can’t be correct, can they? Let’s take a look behind the numbers to see what we can learn.

The Climate Nexus poll was conducted in cooperation with climate groups at climate programs at Yale and George Mason universities. Here’s the core question of that survey when it comes to this article:

The first thing sharp-eyed readers will notice is there is considerable variation in the answers people gave depending on their political orientation. Republicans are more likely to get their information from Faux News or Rush Limbaugh, news sources that rely heavily on input from think tanks controlled by Koch Industries and the fossil fuel industry. Those groups are heavily invested in dismantling electric car incentives and deceivingly painting electric cars as bad for the economy.

In a separate poll from Morning Consult, the majority of respondents — 62% — said the supposedly higher cost of electric cars and concerns about being able to charge them when needed would make them unlikely to buy an electric vehicle.

On its website, AAA says, “When asked if most vehicles will be electric by 2029, only 4 in 10 said yes. Yet, a separate study AAA conducted earlier this year found that more than half of Americans believe that in this same time frame most cars will have the ability to drive themselves — a reality that is much less likely to happen. AAA believes that similar to other emerging technologies, a lack of knowledge and experience may be contributing to the slow adoption of electric vehicles despite Americans’ desire to go green.”

“Today, more than 200,000 electric cars can be found on roads across the country as almost every manufacturer sells them,” says Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “But, like other new vehicle technologies, Americans don’t have the full story and that could be causing the gap between interest and action.”

“AAA believes that the industry should provide as much information as possible about the benefits as well as the limitations of electric vehicles since this will be an important step toward increasing consumer awareness and ultimately adoption. This is the reason that AAA continues to invest in testing and research of EV technologies,” Brannon adds.

The Takeaway

So there we have it, folks. On the one hand, there are blaring headlines about how almost half of people expect to buy an electric car in the next 5 years. On the other are reports that many people are still confused about electric cars and worried they will be left stranded somewhere on the road to East Overshoe without an EV charger in sight.

AAA’s Greg Bannon sums it up best. Educating consumers is the key. Sadly, that is something the major car companies have failed miserably at doing. If you were GM or Ford and wanted to sell electric cars, wouldn’t you put them out front at dealerships and provide test drives for people? Wouldn’t you have trained sales staff on hand to answer questions? Wouldn’t you bring those cars to malls and public areas so people could see them and learn more about them? Wouldn’t you be cooperating with local utility companies to expand the number of EV chargers in your area?

I am nobody from nowhere but I know if you want to sell your products you have to actively market them. There are executives being paid enormous salaries at these companies who are doing a piss poor job of it.

So, here’s my offer to Mary Barra and Jim Hackett. Hire me to run your EV marketing team and I will double your EV sales in 12 months. And I will do it for half what you are paying those other stiffs hiding out in your C suites. Call me. I’m available 24 hours a day. (PS: I will be sure to let CleanTechnica readers know if Mary or Jim calls.)

The good news is that even at the low end, 16% of people expect to buy an electric car in the near future. If so, that would go a long way toward moving the EV revolution forward.

Editor’s note: I’d bet money many people answering both surveys were equating electric cars with conventional hybrids.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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