- A new survey from YouGov found that 11% of Americans who hold a driver's license, equivalent to a market of 21 million people, would consider buying an electric vehicle (EV). Those inclined to purchase an EV are more likely than the general driving population to be in the 25-44 year age group, vote Democratic and consider climate change a serious issue.
- Nearly half of those interested in EVs said they were influenced by their car’s impact on the environment, versus just 14% of driver's license holders. Likewise, 75% of potential customers were influenced by a car’s gas mileage, compared to 59% of the general population.
- Volvo and Chevrolet both saw an increase in their general impression among consumers in the days after they announced they would go all electric. Among those considering an EV, Volvo’s positive impression went up 11 points the day the announcement was made, while Chevrolet’s general impression improved 14 points.
The YouGov results show a larger potential market than currently exists. Only about 1% of cars on the road are electric, although consumers have shown more interest and automakers have responded by putting more resources into electric models and charging infrastructure. Other surveys have shown more enthusiasm for electric cars; a McKinsey&Company survey in December found that half of potential buyers would consider an electric vehicle, although many were turned off by the high cost.
Automakers have increasingly pushed their full electric vehicles; General Motors made waves this fall when it announced plans to cut 15% of its workforce and discontinue five passenger models in a move to "prioritize future vehicle investments in its next-generation battery-electric architectures." Volvo plans to add an all electric version of each model by 2019 and have 50% of sales be electric by 2025.
The surge also comes as more public policy is promoting EVs; last week, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order establishing a Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) program to promote EV use in the state. Nine states have followed California’s lead in setting up a ZEV mandate as well, helping to create a stronger market for the cars.
The YouGov survey also looked at the increase in sales of sport utility vehicles, which continue a decade-long uptick in sales along with crossover utility vehicles (CUVs). The survey confirms automakers’ belief that a large part of the market for larger cars is baby boomers and young Generation Xers who are starting a family. Although automakers have worked to make utility vehicles more efficient, their continued sales climb could impact national progress towards fuel efficiency, even as interest in EVs grows.