A big part of the general public still doesn’t see all-electric cars as a viable option for their next vehicle.

JD Power confirms that in a new study and shows that there are still a lot of improvements to be made on the consumer education front when it comes to EVs.

This week, J.D. Power released its first “Mobility Confidence Index Study” in partnership with SurveyMonkey.

They surveyed 5,749 consumers about self-driving vehicles and 5,270 about battery-electric vehicles to gauge their level of confidence in the technologies.

Unsurprisingly, the level of confidence in self-driving vehicles is still low. It scored 36 out of 100 points.

The Index for battery-electric vehicle scored higher at 55, but it still low for a technology that has been around for a while and it has been improving fast.

According to the study, almost 4 out of 10 respondents think that electric cars are worse for the environment:

“More than half (61%) of respondents say battery-electric vehicles are better for the environment and 48% believe the cost of charging compared with the cost of gas will be advantageous.”

That’s surprising considering studies have shown that electric cars produce fewer emissions than gasoline-powered vehicles even where the electric grid is mostly powered by fossil fuels.

On top of it, electric cars are becoming increasingly greener in the US as the grid is itself becoming cleaner with a higher mix of renewable energy.

Here are the key findings about battery-electric vehicles from JD Power’s confidence index study:

  •  Mobility Confidence Index is 55 for battery-electric vehicles: With an overall score of 55, consumers have a neutral level of confidence about the future of battery-electric vehicles. Attributes scoring lowest include likelihood of purchasing an electric vehicle (39); reliability of electric compared to gas-powered vehicles (49); and ability to stay within budget compared to gas, diesel or hybrid vehicles (55). Most consumers, regardless of age, believe there are positive environmental effects of electric vehicles.
  •  Full speed ahead—for small market share: Both consumers and industry experts recognize it will be well over a decade before electric vehicles equal gas-powered vehicles in sales volume. Experts also predict it will be at least five years until battery-electric vehicles’ market share reaches 10%.
  •  Challenges to increasing battery-electric vehicle acceptance: Consumer affordability and trust remain among the top challenges for electric vehicle adoption. In addition, infrastructure and battery concerns (cost, range and supply capacity) are critical challenges which must be addressed.
  •  Advantages and disadvantages of battery-electric vehicles: More than half (61%) of respondents say battery-electric vehicles are better for the environment and 48% believe the cost of charging compared with the cost of gas will be advantageous. However, 64% are concerned about the availability of charging stations and 59% are concerned about range. More than three-fourths (77%) expect electric vehicles to have a driving range of 300 miles or more. Nearly three-fourths (74%) are only willing to wait 30 minutes or less to charge a vehicle to travel about 200 miles.
  • Experience affects purchase consideration: Two-thirds (68%) of consumers say they have no experience with battery-electric vehicles, meaning they have never been in one. Among those who have owned or leased a battery-electric vehicle, 75% say they would consider repurchasing a similar vehicle. Among those who have never been in a battery-electric vehicle, only 40% said they would consider purchasing or leasing one. Universally, 78% say that tax subsidies or credits would factor into their purchase decision.

Electrek’s Take

We are in our bubble here and we think that the information about EVs is being well disseminated, but things like that are good reminders that we still have a long way to go to educate the public about EVs.

I think it will come with more all-electric models being released in the next few years.

Two-thirds of consumers say that they have never been in an all-electric vehicle. That’s a big opportunity right there. We know how a simple test drive can convince a lot of people.

Of course, battery technology, cost, and charging infrastructure are probably still the most important things to improve, but I think we shouldn’t dismiss some simple education.

As for self-driving, I am less worried about it. There’s currently no commercially-available fully self-driving system. You can’t blame consumers for not having a high level of confidence in it.

Once some companies start to deliver safe and usable system, it will start to change. The question is when.


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