As more and more Americans are choosing to go green than ever before, it seemed there was equal enthusiasm surrounding all-electric vehicles. Impressively, fully electric car sales spiked by 58% in 2014. Despite this bump in overall sales, the all-electric segment is still incredibly small. Even more, while EV sales saw a surge, green vehicles (diesel and hybrids) as a whole fell a total 6.5% in 2014. What exactly is holding back sales from living up to predictions?
Any car dealer will tell you that they are not throwing in the towel on increasing EV sales just yet, but are perhaps taking a long-term approach towards their strategies. As the price of gasoline dropped, many consumers chose to purchase larger, less-efficient models. With dramatic drops in gasoline prices falling below $3, interest in lower-mile-per-gallon vehicles picks up. Luckily for these vehicles, cheap gas will not be around forever.
Lack of Familiarity
Researchers from Indiana University and the University of Kansas conducted a survey asking basic factual questions surrounding plug-in vehicles. One of the most exhaustive surveys on consumer perceptions of electric cars done in years, it was conducted in several U.S. cities. The results tell all: 60% of the time respondents failed to answer correctly, with 75% of those wrong answers underestimating the advantageous aspects of these automobiles. A majority of the respondents were unaware that they require less maintenance than their gasoline-powered counterparts. They even underestimated the fuel savings involved when owning one of these models. The complete inaccuracy surrounding them has definitely contributed to the small pool of ownership.
Lack of Communication
The same survey reported that a majority of people was unaware of state and local sales incentives. If every car dealer and policy maker would increase the education about the perks and incentives available to buyers, sales would likely increase. Tax breaks and the ability to utilize carpool lanes on highways affect a consumer’s purchase decision. Immediate and easily comprehended reductions of the purchase price are more appealing to buyers than complicated, delayed benefits.
With little knowledge or experience surrounding these vehicles, it is obviously difficult for someone to develop an interest in them, much less be inclined to purchase one. By performing demonstrations at local malls, sports venues, or at large businesses, a car dealer could benefit by changing the public’s attitudes. In fact, one study showed that over 71% of drivers said they were much more likely to buy an EV model after they were given the chance to test drive one of the models currently on the market.
Additionally, the National Research Council released a report examining these same barriers for EV sales. Their report cited obstacles including limited model options, inadequate driving range on a single charge, high prices, a lack of charging infrastructures, and the inconvenience of having to install a charging station at their homes.