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Interest in electric cars didn't move up a bit since 2013

Staff writer ▼ | August 19, 2015
Electric cars have seen some impressive benchmarks come and go in recent years and 2013 and 2014 each saw sales for this segment exceeding the half-million mark, and 2015 is on track for a repeat.
Electric car
Electric vehicles   The findings from a Harris Poll
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.

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 surveyed online from May 20-26, 2015.

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%).

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%).

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).