Study finds interest in electric vehicles remains flat

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A Harris Poll of 2,225 US residents conducted in May found that consumer interest in full-electric and electric-assisted vehicles hasn't changed in the past two years. Sales numbers back up the survey's findings, with 2015 sales of EVs and hybrids still pegged at the same three percent of total US car sales that they were in 2012. That will mean more than a half million of them should find new homes this year, but as large as that number is, it's still practically flat.

According to respondents, consideration for such vehicles has stayed steady or increased slightly since 2013: the same 48 percent would consider a traditional hybrid, 29 percent would consider a plug-in hybrid and 21 percent an EV, both numbers up two percent. Yet further adoption is being held up by concerns over price and range, in that order, with buyers categorized as "mature" having the greatest reservations in both areas, while millennials have the least concern. Across the survey, in fact, there's a steady progression of increased acceptance or decreasing concern across age groups as they progress from millennials to Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and matures.

The survey found that men are eight percent more likely to consider an EV than women. We want to know what the survey results will look like in a couple of years, when much more affordable electric vehicles with vastly increased range get them in the same neighborhood with ICE vehicles. The Tesla Model X and Model 3, Tesla competitors from BMW and Porsche, the Chevrolet Bolt, and the next-generation Nissan Leaf should offer strong support to get those survey numbers moving. Check out the press release below for more details, and click through to The Harris Poll for the complete findings.

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Interest in Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Shows Little Change Since 2013

Men are more interested than women in both electrics and diesels

NEW YORK, Aug. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Electric cars – encompassing the full battery of products ranging from traditional hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles – have seen some impressive benchmarks come and go in recent years. 2013 and 2014 each saw sales for this segment exceeding the half-million mark, and 2015 is on track for a repeat. As of the end of July, nearly 290,000 vehicles with a battery generating at least some of their momentum have been sold in the U.S., including nearly 120,000 plug-in models (whether pure electrics or plug-in hybrids).

But while that is indisputably a lot of vehicles, 2015 sales numbers to date still represent the same 3% of total U.S. vehicle sales seen in 2012, before some major players joined the charge. But what might lie ahead for the segment?

Just under half of American car owners (or anticipated owners) say they'd consider a traditional hybrid the next time they're in the market for a new vehicle (48%, identical to 2013 findings); lower consideration levels were recorded for plug-in vehicles, whether they be hybrids (29%, up 2 percentage points) or pure electrics (21%, also up 2 points). An additional two in ten would consider a diesel (19%, up 3 points), while 35% would consider a smaller or gas powered vehicle to save on operating costs (down 3 points).

These are among the findings from a Harris Poll of 2,225 U.S. adults (aged 18 and older) surveyed online from May 20-26, 2015. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.

Most of these vehicles appeal more to some groups than to others:
- Millennial drivers are more likely than their elder counterparts to consider a traditional hybrid, with 57% saying they'd consider one (vs. 49% of Gen Xers, 43% of Baby Boomers and 38% of Matures). This same trend holds true for plug-in hybrids (39% vs. 28%, 22% and 23%) and pure electrics (34% vs. 17%, 14% and 11%), as well as for diesel vehicles (27% vs. 16%, 17% and 9%).
- Men are more likely than women to consider an electric vehicle (25% men, 17% women) and more than twice as likely to indicate that they'd consider a diesel (28% men, 11% women).
Distance drivers – those who travel over 50 miles in an average day – are especially likely to say they'd consider a plug-in hybrid (38%, vs. 28% of those traveling 30 miles or less in a typical day), a pure electric (32% vs. 18%) or a diesel (28% vs. 17%).
- Democrats and Independents are more likely than Republicans to consider a traditional hybrid (53% Dem, 52% Ind and 42% Rep), a plug-in hybrid (34%, 32% and 20%) or a pure electric (26%, 25% and 10%).
- Barriers for electric vehicle consideration
When asked to select their top concerns related to pure electric vehicles, price (67%) and range (64%) rise to the top, followed by repair/maintenance costs (58%), reliability (53%), performance/power (50%) and the fact that it's still new technology (42%).

Price (73% Matures, 71% Baby Boomers, 63% each Gen Xers and Millennials) and range (75%, 75%, 58% and 52%) are especially strong concerns among older Americans.
What does this mean? Well, for one thing it means that American drivers' top concern when considering a new vehicle – reliability, which 93% rate "very important" – is not among the top barriers standing in the way of electric car adoption.

But money talks: in addition to being the top barrier to electric car adoption, purchase cost is the second most important consideration when looking at a new vehicle (with 81% considering it very important). Right now hybrids and electrics still come at a premium when shopped against otherwise comparable vehicles, but those comparative costs are slowly going down. Time will tell whether this might lead to stronger sales.

To see other recent Harris Polls, visit us at

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between May 20 and 26, 2015 among 2,225 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

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About The Harris Poll®
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