Ford Survey Finds Most People Have No Idea What An Electric Car Is Or What It Can Do

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Ford insists it will introduce its Mustang-inspired electric SUV next year, which suggests it could be revealed as early as the LA auto show this December or the Detroit auto show next January. While the research and development is going on, the company decided it needed to get a handle on the attitudes about electric cars held by the buying public.

All Electric F-150 Engineer reveals to customers Source Ford
Image: Ford

So it commissioned a study. And boy, did it ever get a truckload of negative feedback from the people it hopes will be buying its electric vehicles. Here are some of the findings, as reported by CNET Road Show and The Drive. If the following leaves you shaking your head in disbelief, you’re not alone.

  1. 42% of Americans said they believe electric cars still run on gasoline.
  2. 67% said electric vehicles have no towing capacity.
  3. 65% said they would not consider an all wheel drive electric vehicle.
  4. 80% said electric vehicles don’t work in hot or cold conditions.

Almost 10 years after the electric car revolution began with the introduction of the BMW i3, Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and Tesla Model S, how is it possible that so many people could be so uninformed about electric vehicles?

Part of the reason can be attributed to the actions of Ford and its Detroit based siblings who have been dragging their feet for years. When confronted with the prospect of manufacturing EVs, they offered up wimpy compliance cars and deliberately sowed confusion in an effort to protect their thriving internal combustion engine model.

Case in point, Ford once pulled one of the most dastardly misinformation campaigns in industry history when it trumpeted its Fusion plug-in hybrid had the longest range of any electric car — over 600 miles! What it didn’t tell people was that the car could only travel a few miles on battery power alone. The rest of its so-called “range” was achieved by increasing the size of the Fusion’s gas tank. No wonder people are confused.

Another reason is the misinformation campaign funded by the hateful people in the Koch Industries network who provided the news media with a blizzard of stories about the dangers of electric cars. And then we have a parade of auto execs saying repeatedly that nobody wants to buy electric cars.

A lack of incentives for dealers to sell hybrids and electrics, a lack of training for the sales people who sell them, and an incessant industry campaign to roll back emissions standards all conspired to leave the public dazed and confused. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, Detroit. It tolls for thee.

The Charm Offensive Begins

Shocked by the polling results, Ford has come up with several videos extolling the virtues of electric videos. One showed a prototype of the upcoming electric F-150 towing a train weighing more than a million pounds for a quarter mile.

Now two new videos have appeared, one showing the prototype electric SUV cavorting in winter conditions and the other showing it tackling a race track simulator and road course.

Time To Tell The Truth

There’s an old expression that goes like this: “Ignorance can be cured by the application of information. There is no cure for stupidity.” Ford has come to realize that it must stop feeding false information to its prospective customers and start telling them the truth.

My neighbor who drives an F-150 had no interest in an electric version of his vehicle of choice until he rode in my LEAF and saw that video of an electric F-150 towing that train. He sees things differently now.

We here at CleanTechnica assume people just naturally prefer electric cars and we focus on specs — range, battery size, charging time, and so forth. We probably don’t fully realize how strange and mysterious electric cars are to many people.

Why don’t manufacturers take educating people more seriously? Why is every dealer in America not sponsoring EV test drives every weekend, making presentations in schools, holding ride and drive events for political leaders, and inviting the local news media to experience EVs to find out why they are superior to conventional cars?

I am nobody from nowhere and I can think of dozens of ways manufacturers could be laying the foundation for public acceptance of electric cars. I would be happy to share my thoughts with any auto executives who are willing to listen. My fee would be 1% of what they are currently paying their high powered marketing team. Call me. I’m in the book.

Oh, that’s right. There aren’t any telephone books these days. Just as soon there won’t be any cars with gasoline and diesel engines either. Kudos to Ford for doing something but let’s not pretend there isn’t a lot more that needs doing to move the EV revolution forward.

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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." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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