Misconceptions and poor inventory are confusing potential electric vehicle (EV) buyers. Education and marketing are needed to repair those problems.
Online car-shopping marketplace Cars.com went virtual on Thursday to help shoppers explore electric vehicle ownership. The website maintains a charged collection of information on all things EV to correct misinformation for the EV curious.
Experts from Cars.com shared information about EV ownership and answered live questions from consumers interested in EVs. The live presentations covered everything from charging setup and other considerations to thoughts on some of the more popular EVs.
“Cars.com bought its first plug-ins a decade ago, a Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, and we have since continued to evaluate scores of other electric models. Expanding beyond just how the cars drive, we live with EVs and test the range, as well as the cost and setup associated with home charging,” said Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com executive editor and EV expert.
Over the last decade, EV innovations have steadily tried to attract motorists and corporations to invest in the clean energy alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles. But higher prices and uncertainty over public recharging stations have hindered wider adoption.
Still, a new round of marketing and innovations is sparking interest in electric vehicles. More than 100 new EV options are expected to enter the market between 2021 and 2025. Federal funding for EVs and their infrastructure currently are topics for heated debate. Consumers are taking notice with 32 percent of car shoppers actively looking to buy their first EV, according to some industry reports.
“On Cars.com, searches for EVs have almost doubled since last year. However, sales of EVs are growing at a slower rate. There is no doubt that consumer interest in EVs is growing, especially as more major automakers commit to the category and offer more SUV and pickup truck options for shoppers. But to the average person, uncertainty still exists,” said Wiesenfelder.
Information and Education Keys to EV Travel
For EV owners, the benefits to ownership are clear. Reduced fuel cost, environmental impact, and a reduction in maintenance costs can overcome rising gasoline prices and delivery shortages.
“I think a lack of understanding and education about what electric car ownership is like is one of the big things holding people back. But I do not want to downplay the fact that EVs do cost more upfront,” Wiesenfelder told TechNewsWorld.
For hesitant car shoppers, the limited range, lack of charging locations, limited battery life span, and varied charging times cause confusion and hesitation.
That is where educational outreaching helps those interested in EV ownership better understand the pros and cons of EVs. Dispelling misinformation can help people make an informed decision on whether an EV or gas-powered vehicle is right for them, he added.
For the EV-curious shopper looking to make the switch to electric, a lot is at stake. A majority of EV shoppers remain unsure of which make and model to buy.
“One of the reasons we are having our event is we think that consumers are concerned about some of the wrong things. The driving range is definitely an issue with electric cars,” he agreed.
Market Strength Varies
EVs currently make up less than five percent of total searches on Cars.com, according to Wiesenfelder. The share of searches for new EVs rose in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Sacramento, and Denver an average of four percentage points compared with this same time last year.
Local dealerships also must prepare to meet demand. Currently, only 37 percent of local dealerships are selling EVs, and 63 percent are actively planning for EV sales, service, and training, according to a dealer survey last month. On Cars.com 41 percent of new car dealers listed inventory of new EVs.
Not for Everyone
EVs are not a smart choice for every car buyer or lessee, Wiesenfelder cautioned. That is especially the case if the electric vehicle is the only car per family. Two cars in your family with one of them an EV is an ideal use case.
But if you want to go on road trips, they are not a great choice. Battery capacity does not last that far. Finding public charging stations along the way can be challenging. When you find a charging station, it takes 30 minutes or more to recharge to 80 percent.
“People tend to focus on getting a car with 300 miles of range. Most people don’t drive 300 miles a day. Most EV owners charge at home, and that’s the only really satisfying way to own the electric car. Because charging is a slow process,” he said.
More people buying into electric vehicle innovations is often short-circuited by infrastructure concerns. The lack of charging infrastructure, limited range, and people not yet being comfortable with electric cars are the main touchpoints, according to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group.
“The only electric car maker at scale is Tesla, and they do not do any marketing, so their growth has primarily been organic,” he told TechNewsWorld. “The country is not ready for a significant pivot to electric vehicles yet.”
Electrical capacity is lacking. If many people in any one region flip to EVs, they could blow their local transformers and bring the grid to its knees, he added.
Recognizing Key Concerns
If you are pondering whether or not to buy an electric vehicle, consider these major pointers from Cars.com’s live EV presentation.
First and foremost, know that you will pay more for an EV than a gasoline-powered auto. Also accept that the needed charging accessories, although a one-time expense, can cost $1,000 or more.
This list no doubt represents the most troublesome factors associated with the present state of EV innovation.
- Charging is slow — At home charging without an upgraded Level 2 charging unit is very slow. Charging at available public charging stations is slow and more costly than at-home utility rates. Plan on 30 minutes to an hour or more.
- EV batteries are extremely expensive to replace if they fail. But that cost should be covered under most standard eight-year warranties.
- Regardless of whether you get standard or upgraded equipment, traveling distance is seriously degraded in cold temperatures. So living in wintry conditions is not compatible for EVs.
- At-home charging installations can be a complicating factor if you must charge up at the curb rather than in your garage. Installing a charger may be prohibited in some apartment complexes or strictly-regulated communities.
- Heating and air conditioning an EV drains the battery more rapidly. This reduces the distances you can travel before needing to recharge. An AAA study quantified the range at 20 degrees Fahrenheit to be roughly 40 percent less than at 70 degrees for the average EV.
Enderle sees hope in the near future for some of the current bumps in the EV roadway. One solution is ramping up public charging stations.
“Electrify America is rolling out new charging stations, and starting next year, we will get better batteries with greater range,” he said.
A lot of R&D is focused on speeding up charging and improving battery capacity while reducing charging time, he noted. That will lead to substantial improvements in the second half of the decade.
More and better marketing like what Ford is doing for the Mustang Mach-E will also help to spur greater EV adoption. GM is also doing marketing for the Lyric, which is also sold out as is the Mach-E.
Add to that list of needed improvements better batteries, more green power generation, along with a far more dense and more reliable charging network, he suggested.
The U.S. government’s $7,500 tax credit is also a good incentive for going EV, said Wiesenfelder.
“It has not always been well applied. I think anyone involved in that system would agree, but more support would be helpful for consumers, not just for manufacturers,” he observed.
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