Florida Tesla Drivers Drive A Ton!

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We hosted a National Drive Electric Week event last Saturday in Sarasota, Florida. It was arranged very much at the last minute, but we were lucky to get dozens of electric vehicle drivers signed up nonetheless. The bulk of the attendees were Tesla owners, as you may have noticed from photos like the one above that I’ve been using here on CleanTechnica in the past several days. Exactly half of all the vehicles, 20 of them, were Tesla Model 3s. The Tesla Model S and Model X accounted for another quarter of the cars. All together, 30 of the 40 cars were Teslas. The only non-Tesla vehicle to have more than one spot on the lot was the Chevy Bolt — 3 were registered

It was fascinating to see so many fresh Tesla Model 3s in one place. At the event one year ago, they were still a rare sight and basically a novelty. How different it is today! As I’ve said several times in the past week or two to people in the area, the Model 3 seems more and more like the new Toyota Camry or Toyota Corolla. I see several a day, which is a big deal when you remember that they are almost all less than one year old. In fact, many are less than 3 months old!

The car is going mainstream, thanks to a combo of: the best tech, the top NHTSA safety score in history, wicked performance and drive quality, its clean zero-emissions essence, long range, superfast charging, and a cost of ownership similar to … a Toyota Camry or Toyota Corolla.

While gathering so many EV drivers in one place, I thought it would be fun to ask them a handful of questions. Well, actually, I got the idea when Johnna Crider told me she was going to a National Drive Electric Week event in Louisiana and asked if I had any suggestions. I thought it would be interesting to run a survey with as many attendees as possible. Once I realized we’d be attending events in several places, I figured it would be especially interesting to run the same survey everywhere and compare the results.

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Importantly, these are not scientifically sound surveys. The number of respondents in each location was below 30 and there are a number of other potential issues. Nonetheless, it’s fun to look at the results! These small groups of electric vehicle early adopters and enthusiasts are interesting focus groups for understanding or speculating a bit about the tech today, where the market is heading, and how things have changed in recent years.

Generally speaking, attendees at our event in Sarasota had a sense that the market is truly shifting right in front of our eyes day after day. While it may be impossible for our human minds to see exponential growth in action, there’s a feeling among many of us that we can nearly do so in the Sarasota area this year. But I’ll get back to that in a moment. First, some other results from the surveys.

57% of respondents in this survey bought or leased their first electric vehicle (EV) in just the last 21 months (nearly two years). That alone is indicative of how quickly the EV market is growing (and especially Tesla Model 3 sales) and how much different the market is today than it was in 2017.

The other solidly positive note about the market, especially if you consider that many of the respondents just got an EV in the past year or two, is that 83% of them were convinced they had inspired others to go electric. Another 17% didn’t rule it out but simply weren’t sure.

And here’s the big closer on that topic and gets back to what I mentioned above about exponential growth occurring before our eyes: A whopping 91% of respondents were convinced that people were more open to EVs this year than in previous years. Having conducted almost all of those surveys in person, I’d also note that respondents were generally quite emphatic about that answer, lighting up a bit with enthusiasm.

In open-ended followup questions about this, I asked a bit more about why they think that is the case. By and large, the arrival of the Tesla Model 3, and how competitive it is, was seen as a critical milestone that has opened up so many more people to EVs.

As you can see in the chart above, the respondents drive quite a bit, far more than the national average of about 13,500 miles driven per year. Overall, 30% of respondents indicated they drive 21,000+ miles per year, some of whom said they drive more than 30,000 miles a year. 52% indicated that they drive 15,000 or more miles per year.

One thing that’s interesting for the EV market is that the bulk of respondents — 60% — plan to stick with their current EV for 6+ years. 43% of them expect to keep their car 10+ years!

As you can see, nearly 100% of respondents indicated they plan to get a Tesla when they go shopping for a vehicle again, and the bulk of them, 61%, expect to jump into a Tesla Model Y or Tesla Model 3 when they next buy a new vehicle. (Note: “Other” on that chart represented a Rivian electric vehicle.)

Just looking at the question of which auto brands are EV leaders, it was not at all surprising to see 100% of respondents say Tesla was an EV leader. While not even close to Tesla, the responses also indicated a bit of bullishness or praise about Porsche and GM. Also, not showing up on the chart was Rivian, which was also named 9–13% of the time.

I had no real idea what to expect from these surveys. I found the results to be quite interesting, most notably (1) how much the EV drivers (almost entirely Tesla drivers) drive, (2) almost across the board, the next vehicle respondents intended to buy was a Tesla vehicle, (3) 91% of respondents thought people seemed more open to electric vehicles today than one year ago, (4) 57% of respondents first bought an EV in the past 21 months, and (5) 83% of respondents said they’ve definitely inspired other people to go electric. Now that we have mass-market electric vehicles (particularly the Tesla Model 3) that are hyper-competitive with gasoline vehicles in their class, it’s easy to go electric — or, actually, hard to justify not going electric — and I think we see the results of that in several of the findings from this short survey. It will be interesting to see how responses break out in one year!

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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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