You are much more likely to buy an electric vehicle if you have already taken a ride in one.

Overall, 71% of respondents indicated at least some degree of interest in purchasing an electric vehicle, ranging from those who said they would definitely to 35% who said they “could” consider buying one. Twenty-eight percent said they would definitely not buy an electric car.

Nearly half of those who said they would “definitely” buy or lease an electric vehicle had a friend, relative or colleague who owned one. Of those who said they definitely wouldn’t, that figure was just 13%.

Similarly, 71% of people who said they would “definitely” buy an EV had seen one in their neighborhood, while only 27% of those who wouldn’t consider one had seen one. Overall, about 44% of respondents said they had seen an electric vehicle in their neighborhood.

Additionally, many more of those who said they would buy an EV had been a passenger in a vehicle while very few of those not considering an EV had ever driven an EV. Overall, however, the vast majority of Americans — 83% according to the survey — have never driven, let alone driven, an electric vehicle.

Real experience is especially important for big-ticket items like cars, said Deidre Popovich, an assistant professor of marketing at Texas Tech University.

“Product experiences provide us with sensory information that we can use to gauge our enjoyment,” she said in an email. “This is especially important for high-value purchases like a house or a car, because we want to make sure we’ll be happy with our decision.”

Rental fleets considered essential

Automakers like General Motors, Polestar and Tesla sell electric cars to rental fleets largely so rental customers can experience them. Last year, Hertz agreed to buy 100,000 Teslas. When Polestar announced earlier this year that Hertz had agreed to purchase 65,000 Polestar 2 cars, Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said in the announcement that “partnering with a global pioneer like Hertz will bring the incredible experience from driving an electric car to a wider audience.”

GM is also putting its Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV models into rental fleets and plans to do so with future models as well, GM spokesperson Kelly Cusinato said.

“We expect Blazer EVs, Equinox EVs, Silverado EVs, to be of interest to rental companies and we agree that once customers are exposed to EVs they are more likely to consider them,” she said. declared.

GM also hosts ride-and-drive events where customers can spend time inside an electric vehicle, she said.

However, there will always be some particularly resilient customers, Popovich said. Some will tend to look for the negative in any new or innovative product or experience.

“Early adopters ask questions to support their natural desire to try something new,” she said. “Later adopters, on the other hand, tend to ask questions to gather evidence about why they shouldn’t try something new.”

Yet, she said, as more electric vehicles make their way onto roads and into driveways, giving more people an experience with them, there should be a corresponding increase in the interest and demand. It’s similar to what happened with smartphones, she said, which were first adopted by tech enthusiasts but eventually became consumer products that people are now expected to have. .

Still a long way to go

For now, sales of electric cars in the United States are growing rapidly, but they are still largely overtaken by gasoline-powered models. In the last quarter of 2021, electric vehicles accounted for just 3.4% of passenger vehicles sold in the United States, according to the US government’s Energy Information Administration.

Rising gas prices may also have been a factor in the growing interest in electric vehicles, said Quinta Warren, associate director of sustainability policy for Consumer Reports. Electric cars cost much less on electricity than gasoline cars and rising gasoline prices are widening the difference.

When the survey was last conducted, in 2020, gas cost an average of $2.50 a gallon, according to the EIA. The new survey was conducted with 8,000 respondents between late January and late February 2022, when gasoline prices were rising but were still around $3.60 per gallon on average, according to the EIA. Gasoline today costs about $5.00 per gallon on average for all grades.

“If we release the survey today, I’m sure even more people would be inclined to choose an electric vehicle,” Warren said.

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