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Americans Are Interested in Electric Cars But Still Don’t Quite Get ’Em

2020 Rivian R1T electric pickup truck

There’s a disconnect between American shoppers’ interest in electric vehicles and their knowledge about how they work and vehicle availability, according to a new AAA survey. The roadside-assistance and research organization believes that a lack of knowledge and experience may be contributing to the slow adoption of EVs despite Americans’ desire to go green.

Related: Cars.com Survey: EV-Curious Shoppers Most Interested in Saving Green Over Saving Environment

“Today, more than 200,000 electric cars can be found on roads across the country as almost every manufacturer sells them,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations, in a statement. “But, like other new vehicle technologies, Americans don’t have the full story, and that could be causing the gap between interest and action.”

Interest Up, Understanding Elusive

For example, the survey found that a majority of Americans (59 percent) were unsure of whether electric vehicles have better range when driving at highways speeds or in stop-and-go traffic. As electric vehicles do better in stop-and-go traffic because the car recaptures energy to charge the battery when decelerating, the survey response demonstrates a lack of consumer awareness about how the vehicles work.

The agency has been performing the annual survey to track opinions regarding electric vehicles since 2017, and although the numbers are going up in terms of interest and awareness, and down in terms of concern, there’s still a long way to go toward acceptance.

Progress Slow But Sure

As with previous years of the survey, AAA said concern for the environment and lower long-term costs are still the top two reasons to go green (74 percent and 56 percent, respectively). Previous objections to buying electric with regard to price and range anxiety continue to ease, and have trended downward. For example, concern that there are not enough places to charge a car, as well as worry about running out of charge, have both declined by 11 percent from 2017’s survey.

Further Findings

Here are some additional conclusions from the AAA survey:

  • Sixteen percent of Americans say they are likely to buy an electric vehicle the next time they are in the market for a new or used vehicle.
  • Nearly a quarter of millennials would consider buying an electric car, compared with Generation X shoppers (17 percent) and baby boomers (8 percent).
  • Four in 10 Americans think most vehicles will be electric by 2029.
  • More than two-thirds of Americans likely to buy an electric vehicle would be willing to pay more for it than for a gas-powered vehicle.

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