NEW YORK (Aug. 31, 2015) — The number and types of electric vehicles (EVs) available to consumers continue to grow, yet their sales numbers have remained flat for the last couple of years, according to a new Harris Poll.
The range of products — encompassing traditional hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure EVs — “have seen some impressive benchmarks come and go in recent years,” market research company Harris Interactive Inc. www.TheHarrisPoll.com said, noting that 2013 and 2014 each saw sales for this segment exceeding the half-million mark, and 2015 is on track for a repeat. 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 EVs or plug-in hybrids).
However, a recent poll by the company found that “2015 sales numbers to date still represent the same 3 percent of total U.S. vehicle sales seen in 2012, before some major players joined the charge.”
So what might lie ahead for the segment?
Harris said 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 percent, identical to 2013 findings); lower consideration levels were recorded for plug-in vehicles, whether they be hybrids (29 percent, up 2 percentage points) or pure electrics (21 percent, also up 2 points). An additional two in 10 would consider a diesel (19 percent, up 3 points), while 35 percent 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 (aged 18 and older) surveyed online from May 20-26,
Most of these vehicles appeal more to some groups than to others, according to Harris, including:
c Millennial drivers are more likely than their elder counterparts to consider a traditional hybrid, with 57 percent saying they'd consider one (vs. 49 percent of Gen Xers, 43 percent of Baby Boomers and 38 percent of Matures). This same trend holds true for plug-in hybrids (39 percent vs. 28 percent, 22 percent and 23 percent) and pure electrics (34 percent vs. 17 percent, 14 percent and 11 percent), as well as for diesel vehicles (27 percent vs. 16 percent, 17 percent and 9 percent).
c Men are more likely than women to consider an EV (25 percent men, 17 percent women) and more than twice as likely to indicate that they'd consider a diesel (28 percent men, 11 percent women).
c 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 percent, vs. 28 percent of those traveling 30 miles or less in a typical day), a pure electric (32 percent vs. 18 percent) or a diesel (28 percent vs. 17 percent).
c Democrats and Independents are more likely than Republicans to consider a traditional hybrid (53 percent Dem, 52 percent Ind and 42 percent Rep), a plug-in hybrid (34 percent, 32 percent and 20 percent) or a pure electric (26 percent, 25 percent and 10 percent).
The company's poll also uncovered some barriers for electric vehicle consideration:
c When asked to select their top concerns related to pure electric vehicles, price (67 percent) and range (64 percent) rise to the top, followed by repair/maintenance costs (58 percent), reliability (53 percent), performance/power (50 percent) and the fact that it's still new technology (42 percent).
c Price (73 percent Matures, 71 percent Baby Boomers, 63 percent each Gen Xers and Millennials) and range (75 percent, 75 percent, 58 percent and 52 percent) are especially strong concerns among older Americans.
The company said the poll indicates that American drivers' top concern when considering a new vehicle — reliability, which 93 percent rate “very important” — is not among the top barriers standing in the way of EV 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 percent considering it very important),” Harris said, adding that currently hybrids and EVs “still come at a premium when shopped against otherwise comparable vehicles, but those comparative costs are slowly going down. Time will tell whether this might lead to stronger sales.”
Begun in 1963, the Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. The company said new and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly.