High gas prices have sparked increased consumer interest in electric vehicles, but that interest is both highly conditional and somewhat tenuous according to new research by car shopping and research site CarGurus. com.
In its April intelligence report, consumer interest in new and used electric vehicles has kept pace with still-high gas prices, despite some slight declines. According to the AAA, the price per gallon in the United States averaged $4.19 on Monday.
A CarGurus online consumer survey of EV sentiment conducted in three waves in February, March and April found that interest in EVs had bottomed out until fuel prices petrol begin to increase at the end of February.
According to the survey of 2,176 consumers, at the end of February, 32% said they expected to own an electric vehicle within the next five years, while 51% set their timeline for owning an electric vehicle at 10 years.
In April, when gasoline prices topped the $4.00 per gallon mark, those numbers jumped to 40% and 60%, respectively.
But what goes up is likely to go down, and that old-saw moderation is already showing its worth as gasoline prices slowly decline, according to CarGurus director of industry analysis Kevin Roberts.
“Historically, consumers have been very time-sensitive based on changing gas prices,” Roberts told Forbes.com. “If gas prices go up, they start looking for alternatives, they may even buy those alternatives, but if gas prices go down or moderate, they’ll probably get back to normal pretty quickly, about six months. ”
Consumers also seem to have developed a greater tolerance for high gasoline prices. In last year’s poll, 56% said they would be much more likely to consider an EV if the price at the pump hit $5.00 a gallon. But this year, only 27% considered the price reason enough to consider trading in their internal combustion vehicle for a battery-powered vehicle.
The reluctance to make the switch is also based on value and convenience for a good number of consumers who responded to the CarGurus survey.
“I still think there’s some hesitation in the market because electric vehicles, dollar for dollar, are still more expensive than internal combustion engines. It will hold some people back,” Roberts said.
Indeed, while 67% agreed that EVs are the “wave of the future”, 39% agreed with statements that EVs or hybrids “offer value that is worth their higher asking prices” .
The top three choices of factors that could convince them to make the switch were increased range and charging speed, more charging stations in their area, and cost parity with internal combustion engine vehicles. taking into account higher prices versus lower cost of ownership.
Any reluctance aside, general interest in electric vehicles is growing with the introduction of high-profile vehicles in more body types such as the Ford F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E, Cadillac Lyriq, GMC Hummer EV, Hyundai IONIQ 5.
“Consumers are starting to gain more acceptance from the general public,” Roberts said. “Some of those range anxiety load issues are still there, but not as high as they were when they started. As we see more performance cars, light trucks, SUVs, SUVs and pickup trucks coming out , I think we’ll start to see consumers expand their range of brands that they’re looking for.
They’re also expanding their branded EV lineup that they’ll be considering and it’s not a new Tesla
According to the CarGurus study, when asked which brand of electric vehicle they would consider, provided they were available, 45% of potential electric vehicle buyers named Tesla, but Toyota was just behind at 44%. Honda at 40% and Ford in fourth place. named by only 31%.
Of course, there is a catch. Consumers who want to go electric are caught in the same predicament as anyone buying wheels – there’s simply not much to choose from as the global shortage of semiconductors and other supply chain slowed vehicle production.
According to JD Power, U.S. dealerships collectively had fewer than 900,000 vehicles in April, down from nearly 1.7 million a year ago. This situation should not improve this month.
“May has traditionally been one of the biggest selling months of the year, thanks to Memorial Day promotional activity and manufacturer discounts. This month of May will be very different as inventory constraints will persist and there manufacturer rebates are unlikely to reappear in any significant way,” Thomas King, president of data and analytics at JD Power in a statement.
While the selection in new car lots is sparse, used car dealerships probably aren’t the place to shop for an electric vehicle either.
“You depend on what was sold one, two, three, four, five years ago and there just weren’t a lot of EVs sold,” observes Kevin Roberts of CarGurus.
There still isn’t, but that’s slowly changing. Until March, only about 4.5% of all vehicles sold were electric vehicles, but Roberts predicts that despite some consumers’ doubts, “it’s a growing number”.