US Motorists Least Likely to Go Electric

Motorists in the US are less likely to buy a vehicle with any type of electrified powertrain than other major industrialized nations.

That’s the finding of a survey suggesting American carbuyers are less interested in any electrified product, whether it be BEV, hybrid, PHEV or FCEV, largely because of concerns over access to charging stations away from home, according to a comprehensive survey by consulting firm OC&C Strategy Consultants. Its survey of 10,000 respondents across five countries, including the US, China, France, Germany and the UK, considered consumer attitudes and preferences on a number of issues currently facing the automotive industry: electric and autonomous vehicles; car-sharing, subscription models, car ownership and more.

Just 53% of US consumers said they would consider purchasing a car with an electrified powertrain. In contrast, 77% of French consumers and 94% of Chinese respondents said they would consider buying that type of vehicle. Only 10% of US consumers said they had purchased an EV or hybrid as their most recent vehicle.

Other key findings from the survey:

  • Cash incentives drive EV sales with California, which offers strong financial backing for purchases, recording nearly 50% of all EV sales in the US;
  • Car ownership remains vitally important to Americans with 84% saying having their own car is “essential to getting around,” the highest among the five countries. Additionally, 64% of Americans say they expect to own their own car in the future, ahead of all countries except China;
  • Nearly 70% of Americans and Europeans would not trust a driverless car. Conversely, 72% of Chinese consumers would trust an autonomous vehicle;
  • Car-sharing, short-term renting and taxis are largely unappealing to consumers in most Western countries because they want a vehicle “when and where they need it” and “it’s too much of a hassle to pick up a vehicle”;
  • US consumers are interested in “bundling” car-related services, such as insurance, service and maintenance and breakdown coverage, into one monthly bill;
  • No single company has all the ingredients to lead the way in car selling, servicing, financing, insurance suggesting scope for partnerships and/or vertical integration across car-rental firms, service companies, etc.

Nicholas Farhi, US-based partner at the consultancy, said: “America remains the spiritual home of the individually owned automobile and the open road, with few willing to adapt to innovation. Dwindling incentives and static or loosening emission standards have failed to push more Americans to consider electric vehicles. This survey also points to a future where consumers buy ‘just add fuel’ subscription vehicles. Companies who can take their experience managing fleets, such as car rental agencies, to becoming service providers to this market will be the unheralded winners.

“While the evolution of the way we transport people and goods is a key pillar in the race to decarbonize transportation, the younger generation in the U.S. are constrained by their finances in purchasing greener EV and hybrid vehicles.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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